The Intimacy of Death: Interpreting Gender and the Life Course in Medieval and Early Modern Burials

  • Roberta Gilchrist
Part of the Contributions To Global Historical Archaeology book series (CGHA)


This chapter engages with Mary Beaudry’s contribution “Stitching Women’s Lives” (Chapter 7) to review points of similarity and difference in the study of gender and material culture in American and British historical archaeology. An interpretive approach is developed through a review of the archaeology of medieval and early modern burial practices in England, with stress placed on evidence connected with age and the family. A dialogue with American historical archaeology prompts a more narrative, microscale approach, explored here through a case study of burial practice as an extension of the social role of mothering. With reference to Beaudry’s focus on the material culture of sewing, special emphasis is placed on the meaning of items of weaving equipment placed in medieval graves as an expression of women’s roles as family undertakers and care-givers of the family.


Material Culture Historical Archaeology Thirteenth Century Grave Good Burial Practice 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This chapter developed after a joint research project with Barney Sloane on medieval monastic burial, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and published with a grant from English Heritage. I am grateful to Professor Philip Rahtz for permission to reproduce the plan and photograph of the long-house at Upton, Gloucestershire. I first discussed this case study at the seminar Mujeres y actividades de mantenimiento en tiempos de cambio, organised by the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona and the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ArchaeologyUniversity of ReadingReadingUK

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