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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : Postgraduate (History, Classics and Archaeology)

Postgraduate Course: Mariners, Monks and Mobility: the archaeology of the early medieval Atlantic Archipelago (PGHC11546)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryWho were the Britons, Welsh, Scots, Picts, Northumbrians, Angles, Saxons and Vikings? Are these terms useful for the people living in Britain and Ireland in the fifth to twelfth centuries AD? This course compares the regional archaeologies of the Atlantic Archipelago, looking at the diversity and commonalities of life in the region during the early medieval period using a variety of archaeo-historical evidence and recent research findings.
Course description This course investigates, at an advanced level, the archaeological landscapes and cross-cultural interactions of the Irish Sea zone, North Atlantic and North Seas. It introduces students to the peoples of the region, and the geographical unit of the Atlantic Archipelago (now the modern nations of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England, and the various smaller island communities). It begins in the late-Roman/Iron Age period, covers the impact of Christianisation and the Vikings, and the impact of the Norman Conquest. We will explore core themes of religion, trade, mobility, food, and cross-cultural contact. A key aim of this course is to highlight the diversity in the archaeology of the region but also the high degree of interaction around the "inner sea" and how the different sub-regions reacted to similar external forces and events.

Students will develop a strong grounding in the period and will analyse and discuss a range of archaeological evidence including (but not limited to) funerary archaeology, settlements, and bioarchaeology (including isotopic data and aDNA). In addition to lectures and seminars students will have the opportunity to get up close with early medieval material culture and sites through a museum visit and an optional fieldtrip.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Students MUST NOT also be taking Mariners, Monks and Mobility: the archaeology of the early medieval Atlantic Archipelago (ARCA10096)
Other requirements Students must be enrolled in a taught MSc programme.
Additional Costs Optional cost of public transport for fieldtrip within Edinburgh.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesStudents must be enrolled in a taught MSc programme.

** as numbers are limited, visiting students should contact the Visiting Student Office directly for admission to this course **
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 11, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 163 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 90 %, Practical Exam 10 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Class presentation (pre-recorded): 10% of the overall course mark (15 min presentation with slides)

Museum object report: 30% of the overall course mark (1,500 words)

Essay: 60% of the overall course mark (3,000 words)
Feedback Students will receive feedback on their coursework, and will have the opportunity to discuss that feedback further with the Course Organiser during their published office hours for this course or by appointment.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. demonstrate a detailed and critical command of the body of knowledge concerning early medieval Britain and Ireland;
  2. to read, analyse and reflect critically upon relevant scholarship;
  3. understand, evaluate and utilise a variety of source material;
  4. develop and sustain scholarly arguments in oral and written form, by formulating appropriate questions and utilising relevant evidence;
  5. demonstrate independence of mind and initiative; intellectual integrity and maturity; an ability to evaluate the work of others, including peers.
Reading List
Barrett, James H., Alison M. Locker, and Callum M. Roberts. '"Dark Age Economics" Revisited: The English Fish Bone Evidence AD 600-1600'. Antiquity 78, no. 301 (September 2004): 618-36.

Blackwell, Alice E., ed. Scotland in Early Medieval Europe. Leiden: Sidestone Press, 2019.

Campbell, Louisa, Adrian Maldonado, Elizabeth Pierce, and Anthony Russell. Creating Material Worlds: The Uses of Identity in Archaeology. Havertown: Oxbow Books, 2016.
Specifically, chapters 3 and 4. Online access:

Cooijmans, C., ed.Traversing the Inner Seas: Contacts and Continuity in and around Scotland, the Hebrides, and the North of Ireland. Scottish Society for Northern Studies, 2017.

Craig-Atkins, E., Ben Jervis, Lucy Cramp, Simon Hammann, Alexandra J. Nederbragt, Elizabeth Nicholson, Allie Rae Taylor, Helen Whelton, and Richard Madgwick. "The Dietary Impact of the Norman Conquest: A Multiproxy Archaeological Investigation of Oxford, UK." PLOS ONE15, no. 7 (July 6, 2020): e0235005.

Edmonds, Fiona. Gaelic Influence in the Northumbrian Kingdom: The Golden Age and the Viking Age. Boydell & Brewer, 2020.

Hemer, Katie A., Angela L. Lamb, Carolyn A. Chenery, and Jane A. Evans. 'A Multi-Isotope Investigation of Diet and Subsistence amongst Island and Mainland Populations from Early Medieval Western Britain'. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 162, no. 3 (2017): 423-40.

Hinton, David A., Sally Crawford, and Helena Hamerow, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Anglo-Saxon Archaeology. The Oxford Handbook of Anglo-Saxon Archaeology. Oxford Handbooks. Oxford University Press, 2011.

Margaryan, Ashot, Daniel J. Lawson, Martin Sikora, Fernando Racimo, Simon Rasmussen, Ida Moltke, Lara M. Cassidy, et al. 'Population Genomics of the Viking World'. Nature 585, no. 7825 (September 2020): 390-96.

O'Sullivan, Aidan. Early Medieval Ireland AD 400-1100 The Evidence from Archaeological Excavations. Portland: RoyalIrish Academy, 2014. Online access:
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills - Have an overall knowledge of the archaeological record in early medieval Britain and Ireland;
- Gather and critically assess relevant information;
- Present their ideas and analyses in a coherent fashion in a number of different formats;
- Develop a reasoned argument, support it with relevant evidence, and communicate it appropriately and persuasively;
- Fine tune an understanding of the methods and skills involved in academic research;
- Be able to question cultural assumptions;
- Understand the nature and extent of human diversity and commonality as demonstrated through a variety of strands of archaeological evidence (e.g. funerary archaeology, ancient DNA, isotopic evidence, settlements, trade goods...);
- Understand how ancient and modern identities have been shaped by social, cultural and environmental contexts.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Sam Leggett
Course secretaryMiss Marketa Vejskalova
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