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Kate Mees

Kate Mees

My recently completed PhD research, funded by the AHRC, investigated the landscape context of early medieval burial sites in Wessex (c. AD 450-850). The thesis looked in particular at the relationship between early medieval burials and antecedent features, such as funerary monuments, earthworks, routeways, territorial boundaries, field systems and buildings.

Key questions addressed included:

  • What factors influenced the decision to bury the dead in specific locations within the landscape? What was the impact of land-use and landscape character?
  • What role did the funerary appropriation of ancient sites and monuments play in the formation and coalescence of group identities?
  • How were monuments and burial sites perceived by people moving through the landscape?
  • Were particular types of site important in early medieval funerary ideology? What influence did pagan or Christian belief systems have upon perceptions of the ancient past? Did certain types of ancient site engender fear and superstition, or were they simply seen as convenient burial sites, functional meeting places or markers in the landscape?

Prior to commencing my doctoral research, I undertook an MA in Landscape Archaeology at the University of Bristol. My dissertation examined the changing perceptions of megalithic monuments and earthworks in Anglesey, North Wales, during the post-medieval period, focusing in particular on the exploitation of prehistoric monuments (particularly where incorporated into designed landscapes) in the construction of a Welsh national identity. Through this research, I developed an interest in the concept of the 'past in the past' and the symbolic claiming of the past for social or political reasons in different societies, which subsequently inspired me to explore these concepts in relation to monument reuse and identity in the early medieval period.

I have been involved in numerous research projects in England, Wales, the Channel Islands, France and Slovenia, conducting both fieldwork and desk-based research. I have also worked in development-led archaeology, for Bristol-based companies Avon Archaeological Unit and Archaeological Landscape Investigation. As part of my MA, I undertook a work placement at the National Trust's Wessex regional office, which included managing and updating data in the Historic Buildings Sites and Monuments Record (HBSMR), and I continue to regularly assist the NT archaeological team on fieldwork projects and in data management.

Research interests

  • Landscape archaeology
  • Death and burial in early medieval England
  • Archaeologies of memory and perceptions of the past
  • Historiography of archaeological and antiquarian research

Publications

Peer-reviewed publications

Mees, K. 2013. 'From the sublime to the Druidical: changing perceptions of prehistoric monuments in southern Anglesey in the post-medieval period'. Post-Medieval Archaeology 47/1: 222-46.

Other publications

Mees, K. 2014. 'Review: The Archaeology of the Dykes: From the Romans to Offa’s Dyke, by Mark Bell (Amberley Publishing, 2012)'. Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine 107: 255-6.

Mees, K. 2010. 'Documentary and literary evidence relating to Burwash Forge and Wynhamford Mill, East Sussex'. Wealden Iron 2nd Series, 30: 10-29.

Conference papers

Mees, K. 2014. 'Death, display and the appropriation of the antecedent landscape in Wessex, c. AD 450-850'. EMASS 2014: neEMASS, Durham University, 19-21 May.

Mees, K. 2010. 'From the sublime to the druidical: changing perceptions of chambered tombs in southern Anglesey'. TAG 2010: The 32nd Annual Meeting of the Theoretical Archaeology Group, University of Bristol, 17-19 December.

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