Past event

Formative Britain: five themes in search of a narrative £5 or £10 (ticket price will include membership of the Archaeology Society 2019-2020). Free to Student Archaeology Society members.

Professor Martin Carver will give the 2019 Mitford Memorial Lecture about his recently published book.

In his own words, this was a rash attempt to synthesise the archaeology of Britain between the 5th and 11th centuries. It was constructed from five general themes woven together to produce a general narrative of the experience of the occupants through 700 years. These themes are:

  • geography -- how the varied assets of the island and its prehistory influenced the history of its diverse early medieval peoples
  • personhood -- the diversity of the population and its principal declarations of identity through clothing
  • how settlement form indicated differing social, economic and ideological trends
  • how cemeteries maintained or changed ideological allegiance
  • the militant role of monuments (especially sculpture) in advancing the political agenda.

It is based on archaeological rather than historical material and so could be regarded as a message from the ground up. This message concerns ideas, and ideas that were permanently in transition, differing not only from century to century, but from region to region, and between men and women, farmers, merchants and priests. Although such diversity can be bewildering, trends can be glimpsed: devotion to single male leaders, faith in spiritual powers and trust in wealth pass alternatively under the spotlight and make their pitch, each competing until an equilibrium is reached. In this sense, the period was formative.

Drinks and light refreshments will be available from 7pm.