Conference Blog: Gareth Davies at the Hansa

Next week I have the privilege of representing the York Archaeological Trust at the Twelfth Colloquium on urban archaeology in the area of the Hanseatic League, in Lubeck, Germany ( This standing conference is very well attended and the Trust has always sent a representative; for many years this was Richard Hall, the excavator of Coppergate.

The proceedings of the colloquium are always published in full and focus on various themes relevant to the study of urban archaeology, the medieval Hanseatic league and affiliated towns. Over the years colloquium themes have included town defences, infrastructure, trade, public interpretation, secular buildings, religious buildings and archaeological approaches. The various published volumes represent a vital resource for understanding the archaeology of medieval towns in Europe.

This year the theme of the conference is urban nobility –archaeology in the context of medieval urban elites. Key questions include, can we identify nobility in the archaeological record, what are the essential elements of a noble existence and how do noble activities manifest themselves in the archaeological record? Over the course of 4 days there will be 35 papers presented from all over Europe by individuals working in commercial, academic and curatorial roles.

My paper is going to focus on the period 900-1200 AD in York, and it has certainly been an interesting exercise putting it together! Some key themes for me include the visibility of elites when much focus of excavation into early deposits has been on mercantile and trading areas, and transformations in the Tenth century which sees the rise of church-building merchant aristocrats, and a general blurring of rural and urban elite identities. More on this next week.

I hope to provide an update on the conference proceedings whilst I am in Lubeck next week to highlight some of the interesting things that are being said, so do watch this blog space!

– Gareth