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2016 Rhind Lecture 3: Domesticating the Saxons

The third 2016 Rhind Lecture entitled “Domesticating the Saxons” by Professor Roey Sweet.

AOC Archaeology Group LogoThe Rhind Lectures 2016 “Antiquaries, archaeologists and the invention of the historic town c.1700-1860” by Professor Roey Sweet, University of Leicester, Centre for Urban History.  The lectures were sponsored by AOC Archaeology Group and presented in the National Museums Scotland as part of the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016.  Six lectures were presented across the weekend of Friday 6th may to Sunday 8 May 2016.

Lecture 3: “Domesticating the Saxons”

Many eighteenth-century commentators had viewed the Saxons as barbarian invaders who had driven out the last remnants of Roman civilization. This lecture will show how antiquaries combined the evidence of archaeology, material culture, manuscript illuminations, poetry and numismatics to construct an alternative narrative of Anglo-Saxon urbanism and domesticity.

The historic town today is a clichéd mainstay of tourism and place-branding; its credentials go back to the eighteenth century when antiquaries first began seriously to study the physical remains of the past and to single out towns as of particular historical interest. These lectures will explore how the antiquaries and archaeologists of the 18th and 19th century developed their understanding of the material and textual remains of the urban past and in the process  both invented the familiar category of the historic town and contributed to a distinctively urban narrative of British history.

Roey Sweet is Professor of Urban History at the University of Leicester and is currently Director of the Centre for Urban History and co-editor of Urban History.  Her research has focused upon antiquarianism and the reception of the past in the long eighteenth century and upon urban history during the same period.   She is currently extending these interests into the nineteenth century.  Her principal publications include The Writing of Urban Histories in Eighteenth Century England (Oxford, 1997); The English Town 1680-1840 (Harlow, 1999); Antiquaries: the Discovery of the Past in Eighteenth-Century Britain  (London, 2004) and Cities and the Grand Tour: the British in Italy, 1690-1820  (Cambridge, 2012).  Download the full Programme here.