Society for Medieval Archaeology Student Colloquium 2015


The Society for Medieval Archaeology Student Colloquium 2015 was held on 11th – 14th November with 50 attendees. The Society for the Study of Childhood in the Past sponsored a session “Children and Childhood” and awarded a best paper prize at the Colloquium. This well attended session was chaired by SSCIP committee member Dr Katie Hemer.

The paper: “Toys and the Portable Antiquities Scheme: A Source for Studying Later Medieval Childhood” by Emma Harper, Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service, was awarded to the best paper prize in the session. An outline of the paper is given by Emma below:

“My paper examined the value of the Portable Antiquities Scheme for helping us to understand later medieval childhood in England and Wales through the study of purpose-made manufactured metal toys. I focused on highlighting the geographical spread and typological diversity suggested by the data set of over 50 finds recorded on the PAS in this category for the period c. 1000-1600AD, integrating metal detected evidence with artistic and written sources as well as excavated material. Whilst my presentation was based on discussing one particular type of metal toy – dolls – I tried to use the conclusions I drew to speculate more widely about how metal toys in general represented the attitudes and experiences that shaped later medieval childhood.”

The other papers in the session were:

The Condemned Man? An Osteological and Criminological Analysis of the Sex and Age
Imbalance in Anglo-Saxon Execution Cemeteries, Michelle Williams-Ward, University of Bradford, and;

Through the Keyhole of the Medieval Hospital: Populating British Houses of Charity
Martin Huggon, University of Sheffield.

The colloquium commenced with a talk by Roger Wright from Liverpool “Eighth-Century Mobility: Romance-speaking Berbers and their contribution to Old Spanish”, hosted by Sheffield’s Medieval and Ancient Research seminar (MARS) series. This gave attendees the opportunity to engage with research in a discipline outside of archaeology.

The first full day of the colloquium saw four paper sessions, each containing three papers,
covering a wide range of topics; Identity, Children and Childhood, Grave Matters and a
session exploring how archaeology can be used alongside other forms of research, for
example Katie Harrison’s research into the St Cuthbert stain glass window in York Minster. The day ended with our keynote lecture given by Dr Aleks McClain from the University of York exploring what we mean by ‘interdisciplinary’ work and collaboration.
Day two saw another four sessions of paper presentations: four papers in sessions ‘Castle,
Chapels and Charterhouses’ and ‘Conflict and Conquest’ and two papers each in the open
session (one focusing on medieval rabbit warrens) and the session on 3D modelling in
archaeology. A panel discussion involving a panel of individuals from the Medieval and
Ancient Research Centre, University of Sheffield (MARCUS) on interdisciplinarity and
collaborative working closed the colloquium. On the Saturday a workshop on medieval human skeletal remains took place. We discussed three case studies including the skeletal remains of a child with fibrous dysplasia. This was followed by a guided tour of Sheffield cathedral attended by 6 people. The planned walking tour of Sheffield was cancelled due to the weather!

This story is modified from a report by Emma Green, The Society for Medieval Archaeology Student Representative, and information gathered from Emma Harper.