You are what you eat: isotopic evidence from Whitehall Farm and Early Medieval England

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  • 27th April 2021
    19:30 - 21:00

[this is a virtual event presented via Zoom]

Presented by: Dr. Samantha Leggert.

Bio:  Sam is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Cambridge and her interests lie in bioarchaeology and the history and archaeology of the Early Middle Ages. She completed her PhD at the University of Cambridge in 2020, which focused on diet and mobility in Early Medieval England and western Europe – which included analysing the skeletons from Whitehall Farm. Her previous work looked at the history and archaeology of the ‘Conversion Period’ in England and Scandinavia at the University of Sydney and University of New England. Sam is also currently working on projects across the UK, Norway and Spain using isotopic analyses to look at diet and migration in Late Antique and Medieval populations.

Summary: This talk looks at the new stable isotope evidence from the skeletons at Whitehall Farm, Nether Heyford and contextualises the site within the broader context of contemporary sites in England and western Europe. Are there changes in what they were eating through time?
Do these match the shifts in burial practice seen at the site? And how do these skeletons compare with other communities in the Early Middle Ages? It shows how this small group of burials adds to our knowledge of the period and the major socio-environmental transitions that took place from the end of the Roman period onwards.

In memoriam: This is a memorial lecture in memory of Alan Watson; a long-time volunteer, trustee and Chair of Trustees whose enthusiasm and support enabled CLASP to establish itself in the early years of the charity. He and his wife Pam were constant and willing volunteers in our many activities, from the research excavation at Whitehall Farm to summer trips and Christmas dinner outings. In fact, he helped us to fund some of our earliest archaeological work on the Roman Villa at Horestone Brook through his involvement with the Bliss Charity and I remember fondly in latter times, although his health was failing, he would bring to our meetings newspaper snippets about other archaeological discoveries. We sadly lost Alan towards the end of last year. He was a person most parents in Nether Heyford would have known in his teaching career as the Headmaster of Bliss Charity School, a post which he held for 28 years. Angela, the Treasurer, remembers that he was a good sport one year at Nether Heyford Village Fete when he was in the stocks allowing children to throw sopping wet sponges at their Headmaster. Alan also always took part in the village pantomime taking part as the ‘baddie’ so the children could boo their Headmaster. He was very keen on education allowing WEA ( Workers Education Association) to meet on a Wednesday evening and staying on site himself so that he could lock up after the meeting finished. No charge was made, just a donation. He was also a very good tenor, singing with Heyford Singers for a long time, something he greatly enjoyed. He and his wife Pam were keen ramblers and grew many vegetables on their allotment, something Pam continues to do. He was a gentleman who is greatly missed.

This is a free to attend event provided by CLASP. Should you wish to join CLASP or to make a donation  our membership and donations page is here.



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Additional Volunteers

We need to expand our team of enthusiastic and committed volunteers to fulfil a variety of roles and maintain the charity’s development whether you are able to give a few hours a week or more:
Volunteer help needed for:
  • Field work (field walking, excavation, geophysics etc.
  • Post excavation (processing and recording finds and archiving)
  • Computer and digital work
  • Fund raising
  • Publicity
[more information]