Best Undergraduate Dissertation 2016

Susanah Owen, one of our most recent graduates, has just been awarded joint first prize in the History of Parliament competition for the best undergraduate dissertation presented in 2016 on a subject relating to British or Irish parliamentary or political history before 1997. Her subject was ‘Digitally mapping popular political susannah-owenactivity in Manchester 1792-5.’ The prize will be presented at the History’s annual lecture, which will be held at Westminster  in the Attlee Suite, Portcullis House in the evening of Wednesday 7 December 2016. (The lecture will be given by Professor the Lord Morgan FBA on ‘7 December 1916: Asquith, Lloyd George and the crisis of Liberalism.’)

The dissertation was a striking piece of work  with two subjects: the popular political response to the French Revolution in Britain, and the contemporary response of historians to what has been described by some academics as a digital revolution. As a part of the study Susannah created a digital, interactive map of popular political activity during the French Revolution which displayed  100 different geographically located events which took place in Manchester and its surrounding areas between 1792 and 1795. Each pin on the map was colour coded to denote whether it was politically radical or loyalist, and included further information on the event in question (what happened, when it happened, and the sources used to ascertain these things). The digital Humanities is an approach which is being explored widely by current historians working with new media.

The other joint prize winner is a student at Cambridge University. Susannah Owen, having been supervised by Professor Dominic Janes, is staying at Keele for a Master’s programme,.



Staffordshire Hoard Month at Keele

The discovery of the Staffordshire hoard in 2009 has brought the county into an unusual prominence in matters ‘Anglo-Saxon’. For historians the well-known Mercian hole is not that in which the hoard was discovered but the gap which features in most narratives of pre-Conquest England as a result of the paucity of written records for Mercia. Now, in the space of a few weeks the University plays host to two lectures which highlight results from examination of the Hoard. The first, this week,  deals with the analysis of the gold content of the hoard objects. The second, a month later, is the annual Levitt lecture at which the archaeologist who excavated the hoard will speak,

Public lecture: The Staffordshire Hoard

Institute of Physics, Keele Physics Centre

Thursday 20th October 2016 7.30 p.m.
The following talk will be given in LJ1.75, Lennard Jones Laboratory:

“Secrets of the Anglo-Saxon goldsmith: Scientific results from the analysis of the Staffordshire Hoard gold”
Dr Eleanor Blakelock, Birmingham Museum & British Museum

The discovery of the Staffordshire Hoard in 2009 led to the development of a cross-disciplinary programme to conserve, research and disseminate the find. The Hoard consists of the largest assemblage of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver objects. As part of the wider research project studying the Staffordshire Hoard a ground breaking study of the gold was carried out. The work has revealed more details about workshop practice and from this it is possible to outline some of the decisions made by the goldsmiths in the Anglo-Saxon period to enhance the appearance of the objects.

Tea and coffee available in the Lennard Jones foyer from 6.30 p.m.

Admission free. The lecture is open to the public and is sponsored by the West Midlands Branch of the Institute of Physics.

Skeleton 16 from Hulton Abbey

Skeleton 16 excavated at Hulton Abbey outside Stoke on Trent in the early 1970s has become something of a celebrity. Traditionally identified with a member of the Audley family who were patrons of the Cistercian house, the remains have more recently  been identified as those of Hugh Despenser jr, executed in 1326 during the campaign which led to the deposition and murder of Edward II. The skeleton, missing its skull, a thigh bone, hands and feet, has also been argued to represent one of the only skeletons so far identified as havbnf-fr-2675ing been subject to the judicial process of quartering.

This year’s Thelma Lancaster Memorial lecture at the The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery was given by Philip Morgan, and reviewed the historical evidence for the identification with Hugh Despenser, as well as some of the written evidence for the process of such executions and the later recovery of the remains. In the image on the right an illustration for Jean Froissart’s chronicle shows Despenser’s execution in Hereford.

The audience, members of the Stoke-on-Trent Museum Archaeological Society, included many of the members who had been involved in the original excavation, not least David Thomas who dug up skeleton 16, and generously shared an image of the bones in process of being uncovered. The lecture is due to be published next year.