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One Man Conference: Buildings Archaeology

Date and Time
18 February 2023
10:00am - 10:00pm
From £1.00

A continuous 12 hour series of talks on mediaeval architecture delivered by just one buildings archaeologist…

This one-day event will see buildings archaeologist Dr James Wright (Triskele Heritage) attempt to deliver six consecutive hour long talks (each followed by questions and answers sessions) on mediaeval architecture in one, somewhat foolhardy, 12 hour session.

The talks will be given via Zoom and attendees are invited to join for as much or as little of the day as this wish. The lectures will be as follows:

10.00-12.00: An Introduction to Buildings Archaeology

The study of buildings archaeology involves the forensic application of techniques to observe, record and analyse the standing remains of historic structures found above-ground. Unpicking the history, functions and phasing of the built environment has been a relatively recent addition to the archaeologist’s toolkit. This talk looks at the practical ways in which the historic built environment can be recorded and analysed by archaeologists.

12.00-14.00: Timber-framed Buildings

The second half of the twentieth century saw a significant rise in the study of ‘ordinary’ mediaeval and early modern buildings constructed by and for peasant, yeoman and urban communities. Typically made from local materials, such buildings might incorporate timber, mud, straw, stone and chalk components – yet their survival rate is surprisingly widespread. This introductory talk looks at pre-modern building materials, construction techniques and historical developments of vernacular architecture relating to domestic occupation and agricultural systems. It will conclude with a case study analysing the development and phasing of an incredible “lost” hall house in the midlands.

14.00-16.00: The Archaeology of Castles

The study of mediaeval castles offers a superb opportunity to utilise the full range of modern archaeological fieldwork techniques. In recent years, many of these incredible buildings have been the subject of widespread research by numerous organisations who have used tactics such as building recording, landscape survey, remote-sensing, fieldwalking, archival research, map regression and excavation to try and understand the archaeology of castles. This lecture will articulate the full range of ways in which castles can be researched using real-world fieldwork case studies.

16.00-18.00: Mediaeval Stonemasons - From Quarry to Cathedral

A talk on historic stonemasonry and the men who shaped not only the material but the architectural appearance of the Mediaeval period. The discussion looks at quarrying, transporting, setting out, cutting and fixing stonework. The place and influence of stonemasons in the history of architecture and how that relates to exciting new discoveries made by the Thames Discovery Programme of stonework from the Mediaeval Palace of Westminster is also covered.

18.00-20.00: Historic Building Mythbusting

A general introduction to some of the most common misconceptions surrounding historic buildings. Stories of secret passages, arrow-sharpening grooves in parish churches and yarns that spiral stairs in castles turn one way to advantage right-handed swordsmen. The legends are outlined, the origins of the myths are explained and the underlying truth behind each story is revealed. Hopefully the talk will help to give a broader and deeper understanding of mediaeval buildings that will bring us just that little bit closer to their former occupants.

20.00-22.00: Ritual Protection of Houses

An overview of just why folk were so terrified of demonic threats to their world in the late mediaeval and early modern periods (c 1350 – c 1700). Given such a widespread and genuine belief that the Devil was stalking the land, this lecture looks at the various ways in which people attempted to protect their buildings from evil. These folk traditions often leave tangible remains in the archaeological record including ritual protection graffiti, concealed artefacts and burn marks on the walls. The discovery and interpretation of such finds allows us to trace the lost belief systems connected to the fear of Satan himself…

The speaker, Dr James Wright (Triskele Heritage), is an award winning buildings archaeologist. He has two decades professional experience of ferreting around in people’s cellars, hunting through their attics and digging up their gardens. He hopes to find meaningful truths about how ordinary and extraordinary folk lived their lives in the mediaeval period. He is the author of the popular Mediaeval Mythbusting Blog.

This event is crowdfunded through donation. There is no minimum donation so it is possible to contribute as little or as much as you want. Your donation is your ticket and you will be sent a link to access the event by Eventbrite.

Please note that this live event will not be recorded and made available online afterwards.

*** If you have any problems accessing the events please email with your booking reference to james@triskeleheritage.com ***

Event organiser is James Wright, Triskele Heritage.

Disclaimer: All information was correct when the listing was prepared. Any questions about the event should be directed to the event organiser.