Institute of Archaeology


Events - Conference 2011


Power and place in Later Roman and early medieval Europe: interdisciplinary perspectives on governance and civil organization

UCL Institute of Archaeology, London. 10-12 November 2011

This conference will explore the background, origins, development and practice of later Roman and early medieval social and political institutions from a European comparative perspective. It seeks to address questions of political participation, governance, and authority from the 3rd to the 11th centuries in England, Europe and the western Mediterranean, focussing particularly on the chronology and landscape setting of political practices. In particular, the conference will explore continuities, contrasts and parallels between governance and civil organization in Roman and post-Roman contexts.

Confirmed speakers include: Isabel Alfonso; John Baker; Keith Briggs; Stuart Brookes; Alexandra Chavaria; Adriana Ciesielska; Wendy Davies; Christine Delaplace; Stephen Driscoll; Philip Dunshea; Werner Eck; Nancy Edwards; Julio Escalona; Lisa Fentress and Caroline Goodson; Patrick Gleeson; Helena Hamerow; John Hudson; Frode Iversen; Lars Jørgensen; Egge Knol; Rory Naismith; Marie Ødegaard; Sue Oosthuizen; Levi Roach; Chris Scull; Andrew Seaman; Felix Teichner and Kemajl Lucij; Heiki Valk; Barbara Yorke

Attendance costs £95 (£50 concessions), which includes tea, coffee and lunch for three days. Day rates of £40 (£20 concessions), are also available, however, preference is given to people attending the whole conference.

Registration forms can be downloaded here: Registration form

Posters for the conference an be downloaded here: Conference Poster

The full conference programme can be downloaded here: Conference Programme


As part of the conference there will be a free public lecture on the topic of "Beheading, drowning and hanging: the archaeology of judicial killing in Anglo-Saxon England" by Prof Andrew Reynolds, in the Cruciform Lecture Theatre, UCL, on the evening of 11 Nov 2011.

Accompanying this event will public reception and poster display in the South Cloisters of the Wilkins Building, on the main UCL campus (map). 

If you would like to display your work at this event, poster submissions on the conference themes listed below as well as stalls are warmly welcomed.

Please e-mail your poster abstract of c. 250 words to s.brookes@ucl.ac.uk by 1 Oct 2011, or post your poster to: Dr Stuart Brookes, UCL Institute of Archaeology, 31-4 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PY


Posters are invited which address the following themes:

  • The development and chronology of civil organization and authority in the European landscape in the first millennium AD

    • Late Roman and early medieval administrative frameworks - What form did Late Roman / early medieval civil administration take in the landscape? Did Roman systems influence early medieval political landscapes? Do relationships exist between Roman provinces, pagi, and courts, and those administrative divisions of the medieval period?
    • Law in action - How did Roman and medieval law work; what were the powers and duties of provincial administrators, magistrates, kings, councils, and civilian representatives; what were the limits of individual / group rights and state power? How were courts held; what procedures existed to bring people to justice?
    • Language and procedure of assembly - What terminology is found in inscriptions, texts and place-names relating to legal procedures? How can written sources illuminate the relationships between law, moral conduct, and social status? What symbolism and imagery is used in written and pictorial sources? What was the nature of rhetoric and oratory in the Roman and early medieval world?
  • Places, political landscapes and human experience

    • Places of assembly: location, form and chronological changes - Where were Roman and early medieval assemblies held; what did these places look like? What changes can be observed in role and function of assembly sites between the Roman, early medieval and later medieval periods. What relationships existed between Roman courts, early medieval things and moots, medieval manorial and parish courts?
    • Participation and topography - What was the range of meeting-place types and meeting-place functions (legal, governmental, commercial, military, social, competitive)? Can meeting-places be characterized by their landscape placements (e.g. relationships with monuments and landforms, communications, landscape simulacra)? How are assembly sites 'monumentalized' / conceptualized /architecturally embellished?
    • Relationships between civility, community, economy and law - How did communities express themselves and can different levels of political participation be observed? What relationships exist with settlement / social patterns, 'civil' monuments? Do assembly sites exist in contested landscapes, central / liminal places?
  • Identifying and Defining Political Landscapes: methods and problems. This theme will be addressed through short presentations, a poster exhibition, and structured plenary, presenting case-studies from recent research. Contributions are particularly welcomed addressing archaeological / place-name approaches to political landscapes and the study of individual assembly sites

    • Archaeological approaches - How can Roman and medieval assembly sites be identified and characterized archaeologically? What fieldwork techniques are relevant? What is the contribution of numismatics, metal detectoring, and place-name research?
    • Place-name studies - What can a toponymic approach reveal about the origin and the physical and social evolution of assembly sites? Can different phases of naming be identified and to what extent can different types of assembly place-name shed light on changing practices?
    • Folklore and local tradition - What do folklore studies reveal about landscapes of legal and social assembly? How do local customs relate to more formal frameworks of legal and political activity? Can folkloric traditions be used to identify assembly places?