A Viking camp and the 'nameless dead'


Last week saw the publication of papers on two major collaborative research projects in which staff and students in the department have been involved in recent years.

The Viking winter camp at Torksey in The Antiquaries Journal

The search for the viking winter camp of AD872-3 at Torksey in Lincolnshire has involved collaboration with local metal detectorists and colleagues at the University of York and the Yorkshire Museum. The project was directed by Prof. Dawn Hadley and Prof. Julian D. Richards (University of York).

Fieldwork funded by the Society of Antiquaries, British Academy and the Robert Kiln Charitable Trust, and analysis of the metal detected assemblage, has enabled the full scale of a viking winter camp to be studied and characterised for the first time.

Other Sheffield staff and students involved were Dr Lizzy Craig-Atkins (who analysed human remains from the site), Dr Gareth Perry (who has been researching the pottery industry at Torksey) and Dr Diana Mahoney-Swales (who supervised fieldwork at the winter camp), Dr Samantha Stein (whose PhD was on the geomorphology of the Torksey winter camp, and who now works for Trent & Peak Archaeology) and Lily Carhart (who won the Society for Medieval Archaeology Philip Rahtz prize for her Masters dissertation on an ironwork assemblage from Torksey).

The project has been published as a Gold Open Access paper with the Society of Antiquaries and the digital archive is available via the Archaeology Data Service.

A reconstruction of Torksey

A Thor's hammer

A weight used by Viking merchants

The Rothwell Charnel Chapel Project in Current Archaeology

Crania at Rothwell

The Rothwell Charnel Chapel Project investigates the practice of collecting and curating human bones in semi-subterranean buildings during the medieval period in England using multidisciplinary approaches to examine one of the best preserved examples of a medieval charnel chapel at Rothwell in Northamptonshire.

The Archaeology Department project team includes Dr Jenny Crangle (who completed her PhD thesis "A study of post-depositional funerary practices in medieval England" in 2016), Dr Lizzy Craig-Atkins and Prof. Dawn Hadley. Research has also been conducted by Jesse Johnson, Mairi Maclean, Lauren Proctor, Jennifer Gonissen and Jessica McGinn, who each completed MSc dissertations on the bones in the charnel chapel, Graduate Intern Greer Dewdney and Joe Priestley, who designed our website and undertook his BA dissertation on the charnel chapel at Ripon Cathedral.

The project has involved a range of external collaborators from its inception including Rev. Cannon John Westwood, Holy Trinity Church and the community in Rothwell. An ongoing project to generate 3D models of the Rothwell site also involves collaborators from the Department of Computer Science and the Nuclear AMRC in Sheffield including Dr Steve Maddock, Dr Rab Scott, Dr Wuyang Sui, Peter Heywood and James Williams (SURE placement student).

Research at Rothwell has been funded by the University of Sheffield, Faculty of Arts and Humanities and Department of Archaeology though Arts Enterprise grants, the Engaged Curriculum Fund, an Impact Development Grant and the Digital Humanities Exploration Fund.

We have already published a technical paper on the 3D scanning of the charnel chapel.

The recent publication in Current Archaeology is our first archeological publication.  Find out more about our ongoing research here in the December 2016 issue of Current Archaeology.

Bone stack Rothwell Charnel Chapel