Theory, disciplinary perspectives and the archaeology of later medieval England

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The field of late-medieval archaeology has matured significantly over the past 25 years, and its engagement with archaeological theory has increased substantially over the last decade. Yet late-medieval archaeology still has not lived up to the enormous potential of its wealth of material and documentary evidence. It has been overshadowed by early medieval archaeology in the adoption of theoretical perspectives, and its relationships with the disciplines and evidence of history and art history are still complex and uneven. The article demonstrates the close links that have always existed between archaeological theory and disciplinary attitudes in medieval archaeology, contending that in a maturing field we should now be able to engage more effectively with both social theory and other disciplines to improve the recognition and relevance of our research. The article reviews the current state of archaeological theory in both late-medieval archaeology and the discipline as a whole, and offers suggestions on the challenges and opportunities presented by integration with history and art history. Finally, the article highlights present agendas and future directions in late-medieval archaeology, examining case studies of recent research that provide a way forward for socially informed and multidisciplinary archaeologies of the buildings, landscapes, and objects of the later Middle Ages. These studies demonstrate that empirical analysis and social interpretations are fully compatible, and that we should all be pursuing social questions, whenever and however we research the later Middle Ages.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-170
Number of pages40
JournalMedieval Archaeology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Bibliographical note

© 2012, Society for Medieval Archaeology.


  • archaeology
  • theory
  • interdisciplinary research
  • Medieval
  • medieval britain
  • material culture
  • art

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