Professor Robin Fleming Presents at SAIMS Seminar, Visit Supported by Dr Lucilla Butler

Professor Robin Fleming of Boston College presented a paper at the final Mediaeval Studies seminar entitled ‘Women, Children, Migration and Material Culture in Fifth and Early Sixth-Century Lowland Britain’.robin fleming 2

Her paper examined archaeological findings from the burials of women and girls in early mediaeval lowland Britain. It has generally been assumed that women of this time dressed according to the dictations of their societies and that migration accounts for variations in dress. Using cultural remains and scientific analysis, Robin challenged previous conceptions relating to the roles of women in this location and period. Examination of strontium and oxygen isotopes from the teeth of these women revealed an isotopic signature, reflective of water sources consumed from an early age, which was used to determine their origins. She argued that the clothing and objects these women were buried with did not always reflect the typical dress from their points of origin, which may suggest that they had a degree of autonomy when choosing their attire. She ended her presentation with an appeal for historians and scientists to collaborate in order to overcome challenges imposed by the lack of written sources.

Robin is the author of Britain After Rome: The Fall and Rise of the Middle Ages, c. 400-c. 1070 (Penguin, 2010), Domesday Book and the Law: Society and Legal Custom in Early Medieval England (Cambridge, 1997), and Kings and Lords in Conquest England (Cambridge, 1991).

We are extremely grateful to Dr Lucilla Butler whose support made Robin Fleming’s visit possible. Dr Butler is the daughter of Lionel Butler, the first Professor of Mediaeval History at the University of St Andrews.

Dr Butler has also generously endowed the Lionel Butler Postgraduate Scholarship in Mediaeval Studies, awarded to a postgraduate student studying for the MLitt in Mediaeval Studies or the MLitt in Mediaeval History. The scholarship was awarded for the first time this year and is used to defray the general costs of study. Selection is made via application based on academic potential and applications are considered by the Director of the St Andrews Institute of Mediaeval Studies and the Head of Department of Mediaeval History.

The funding environment for taught Humanities postgraduates is particularly challenging, and this new scholarship will help to ensure that talented students who wish to pursue their interests in the mediaeval world are able to do so.

Dr Butler’s intention when setting up the endowed scholarship was to provide a foundation upon which others might build.  She is therefore keen to encourage Mediaeval History alumni, especially those taught by her father, to consider joining her in supporting taught postgraduate students in Mediaeval History / Mediaeval Studies by adding to the endowment. More information on how to support the scholarship is available from Alex Hayes, Development Officer on +44 (0)1334 461918 or