Work on the Walhain-St-Paul Project doesn’t begin and end with the summer field school, it continues all year round for the members of the research team. A significant part of our jobs as archaeologists is to report and interpret of our findings. Excavation is (usually) fun, but it doesn’t do much to further our knowledge about human history and the relationship between humans and the environment if we don’t tell anyone about it.
We do this in several ways. One is through inviting the public to visit the site with experts on hand to show and explain finds. Most excavation years, the WSP team hosts the local community from Walhain and the surrounding area to join us at the castle for an open house. Tables and tents are set up for the display of selected artifacts and for the distribution of refreshments. Tarts and beer are the usual fare – this is Belgium after all! It’s a fun event, and a wonderful opportunity to meet and talk with some of the people whose family history we’re digging up. We also make connections with local historians, who have led us to a deeper knowledge of the region than we could have hoped to gain without them.
In addition to meeting people face-to-face at the site, we present papers based on our research to our peers at professional conferences. Principal Investigators Prof. Bailey Young and Prof. Laurent Verslype have been doing this for years at meetings like the International Congress on Medieval Studies at Kalamazoo. Lately, since we’ve expanded our research team, we’ve presented at the Society for Historical Archaeology (SHA) conference, held last year in DC, and at the European Rural History Organization (EuRHO) conference, held in fall 2015 in Girona, Spain.
At the 2015 EuRHO conference, the Walhain-St-Paul Project had its own panel, and we’re excited to be afforded the same opportunity to present a detailed look at our site this fall, when the EuRHO conference will be held in our own backyard in Leuven. The summary of our panel is:
EURHO: Rural History Conference at Leuven (Flemish Brabant), Sept 11-14, 2017
Panel: Walhain: Modernizing a Medieval Lordship in Brabant, 1530s-1820s
In 1435 Antoine de Glimes bought the lordship of Walhain, consisting of an imposing moated stone castle built during the 13th century on the fertile Brabant plain. More than 100 years of neglect, since the death of Arnold V, the last lord of the original line, ca. 1310, and successor, Jean de Looz (1304-1370s), left the castle much decayed. Over the next century the Glimes, a family closely linked to the new Burgundian dynasty which under Charles V made the Low Countries a center of European power, transformed the feudal fortress into an elite country residence and modernized the farming estate centered on the basse cour over the moat. A significant archive survives offering many details regarding these transformations, and can be compared with the results emerging from the excavations conducted by the CRAN (UCL) and Eastern Illinois University since 1998. Together these sources allow us to study how an enterprising family with significant medieval regional roots updated the lordship model to function in (early) modern times.
The session itself features three papers: one from Prof. Young, one from Prof. Verslype and members of the Belgian team Erika Weinkauf and Ines Leroy, and a third from American researchers Prof. Debra Reid, Dana Best-Mizsak, and Annie Tock Morrisette. Individual paper abstracts to follow in a later post. Try to contain your excitement!