On April 13, 2013 the Centre for Historical Archaeology (CHA) at the University of Leicester hosted the fourth annual Postgraduate Conference in Historical Archaeology. This year’s conference broke from tradition by having an overall theme: Rural Life in an Urban and Industrial World. Post-medieval archaeology, particularly research on the post-1750 period, has been overwhelmingly focused on urban and/or industrial contexts. This conference provided a venue for postgraduate researchers who use material approaches to study rural contexts and lifeways in the post-medieval period to meet and discuss their work. A major strength of smaller conferences is that they can allow for a greater depth of discussion by both presenters and audience. More discussion time was scheduled into this year’s conference program in order to encourage high quality feedback on the research presented.
Papers were presented in the morning on a range of topics related to the conference theme, ranging from a study of changing Irish transhumance practices (Eugene Costello, NUI Galway) and issues of contemporary collecting in British rural museums (Isobel Keith, Museum of East Anglian Life) to an exploration of South Midlands morris dance (David Petts, Durham University). After an excellent lunch, sponsored by the Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology, the afternoon was spent discussing some of the issues involved with studying rural contexts in the post-medieval world. Many thanks to Dr. Sarah Tarlow, who chaired the paper session, and Dr. David Petts who facilitated our lively afternoon discussion.
The CHA Postgraduate Conference in Historical Archaeology has proven itself a valuable yearly venue for the presentation of student research and we hope this continues in the years to come.
Sarah Newstead, University of Leicester