Exactly three weeks ago, I was making paper-thin excuses as to why I couldn’t come into work in order to attend the Objects and Landscape conference at the British Museum. Organised by the Portable Antiquities Scheme in concert with the Medieval Settlement Research Group, I could tell you about how informative and sometimes inspirational it was. However, seeing as how a wee note I wrote on exactly this topic has just been distributed with the newsletter of the Medieval Studies Forum, I thought it better all round if I post it here for those in the unfortunate position of not being recipients of the aforementioned. (Also, many thanks to Clare Costin at PAS for sorting me out with one of the last tickets to what was in the end a sell-out conference.)
UPDATE! The Staffordshire Hoard must be the biggest thing to have happened to medieval archaeology in years. Thinking back to when it’s discovery was first announced, I even contemplated going to Birmingham – that’s right, Birmingham – in order to see the key artefacts on temporary display. In the end I resisted Brum’s dubious charms, but my recent discovery that the PAS website makes available the collected papers from the Staffordshire Hoard Symposium, convened in March 2010 as a forum for a host of the leading lights in early medieval scholarship to proffer initial conjectures and observations as to its background and constituent elements, has made me wonder whether I should get over my aversion to setting foot in the bit in between the good parts of England and go and see the objects on permanent display. It’s good to see the subject matter of the various presentations covered not just the usual art historical fare but wider contextual considerations as well, from not one but two place-name analyses to Della Hooke’s overview of the landscape setting of the hoard site. I still have many of the papers to read (and even more of the cited works to find and consult) but would wholeheartedly recommend a trawl through them, whether you are someone with a particular interest in one aspect of the hoard or have simply been enthralled by its mysterious, enigmatic story – new chapters of which will go on being told little by little for many years to come.