Howard Williams and Pauline Clarke
Review Amy Brunskill
The use of the term ‘the Dark Ages’, to describe the early medieval period (5th-11th centuries AD) is closely tied to many of the misconceptions surrounding that era. This new publication, based on discussions at the 3rd University of Chester Archaeology Student Conference in 2017, examines public understanding of early medieval archaeology, identifying and challenging ideas that persist in popular views of the period.
The volume centres on work by the student participants in the conference, with contributions and interviews from other academics, and covers a wide variety of topics, from perceptions of colour to the modern fascination with the idea of horned helmets as a Viking icon.
The result is an engaging, well-illustrated, and thought-provoking publication, which addresses many of the pervasive misunderstandings concerning the ‘Dark Ages’ and highlights the richness and diversity of the period. It also raises interesting debates about the nature of public archaeologies and their role in modern society, demonstrating the vital importance of inclusivity in the discussions that take place.