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The Place of Folklore in Archaeological Landscapes: Narratives and Identity in Medieval to Modern Britain

Paphitis, C; (2014) The Place of Folklore in Archaeological Landscapes: Narratives and Identity in Medieval to Modern Britain. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This research explores the relationship between archaeology and folklore through folk narratives about sites and landscapes in Britain and their association with changing socio-political contexts from the medieval period to the present day. Whilst the potential for folklore to contribute to archaeological investigations has been noted by a number of researchers in recent years, and projects and publications in this field have increased, a vast majority focus upon the problems of undertaking such work, yet fail to address these by developing explicit theoretical and methodological approaches. The use of folklore in archaeological research thus remains a marginal and often mistrusted exercise, seen here to rise in part from a lack of understanding of the development of folklore as a discipline and how folklorists approach and interpret their materials. Taking an interpretive approach to legends and landscapes, a strategy for examining historic and contemporary folklore is developed in order to scrutinise changing engagements with archaeological sites and landscapes through time, and the role of archaeological sites in the development of narrative traditions. Using the folk figure Arthur as a thematic focus of this thesis, and employing archaeological, folkloric and historical data, as well as primary data gathered from the completion of questionnaires by site visitors and local residents, ethnographic archaeologies of case study sites across England, Scotland and Wales were undertaken. As well as reorienting Arthur studies away from debates about his historicity towards discussions over meanings of his representation, this investigation reconstructs the complex biographies of these sites to reveal their political appropriation through folklore in the construction of local and national identities. Further, this thesis sets out an agenda for the use of folklore in archaeological investigations as a form of reciprocal, retrospective and interpretive public archaeology, engaging and assessing multiple voices through time and their connections to place.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: The Place of Folklore in Archaeological Landscapes: Narratives and Identity in Medieval to Modern Britain
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Keywords: archaeology, folklore, medieval, landscape, post-medieval
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Institute of Archaeology
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1453663
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