The Importance of British Material Culture to Historical Archaeologies of the Nineteenth Century


The Importance of British Material Culture to Historical Archaeologies of the Nineteenth Century

Edited and with an introduction by Alasdair Brooks

Society for Historical Archaeology Series in Material Culture Series

390 pages
67 figures, 4 maps, 18 tables


January 2016


$90.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)

January 2016


$90.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)

January 2016


$90.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

Britain was the industrial and political powerhouse of the nineteenth century—the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution and the center of the largest empire of the time. With its broad imperial reach—and even broader indirect influence—Britain had a major impact on nineteenth-century material culture worldwide. Because British manufactured goods were widespread in British colonies and beyond, a more nuanced understanding of those goods can enhance the archaeological study of the people who used them far beyond Britain’s shores. However, until recently archaeologists have given relatively little attention to such goods in Britain itself, thereby missing what is often revealing and useful contextual information for historical archaeologists working in countries where British goods were consumed while also leaving significant portions of Britain’s own archaeological record poorly understood.
The Importance of British Material Culture to Historical Archaeologies of the Nineteenth Century helps fill these gaps, through case studies demonstrating the importance and meaning of mass-produced material culture in Britain from the birth of the Industrial Revolution (mid-1700s) to early World War II. By examining many disparate items—such as ceramics made for export, various goods related to food culture, Scottish land documents, and artifacts of death—these studies enrich both an understanding of Britain itself and the many places it influenced during the height of its international power.

Author Bio

Alasdair Brooks is a heritage consultant in the United Kingdom and the editor of the journal Post-Medieval Archaeology and of Society for Historical Archaeology Newsletter. He is the author of An Archaeological Guide to British Ceramics in Australia, 1788–1901.



"This is an important volume, and historical archaeologists will undoubtedly find it immensely useful everywhere the British commercial empire left its material mark."—Charles E. Orser Jr., Journal of Anthropological Research

"This strong volume of well-crafted papers enhances our understanding of nineteenth century British material culture."—Douglas E. Ross, BC Studies

“This book is important to the field of historical archaeology as it provides the necessary comparative framework for all material culture studies worldwide. . . . The ideas here will spark a very important movement in England that will give historical archaeology or the archaeology of the modern world its proper spot in the legacy of archaeology in Britain.”—Stephen Brighton, associate professor of anthropology at the University of Maryland and author of Historical Archaeology of the Irish Diaspora: A Transnational Approach

Table of Contents

List of Figures
List of Tables
Introduction: The Importance of British Material Culture to Historical Archaeologies of the Nineteenth Century
Alasdair Brooks
1. At the Center of the Web: Later Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Ceramics from Huntingdon Town Centre in an International Context
Alasdair Brooks, Aileen Connor, and Rachel Clarke
2. Containers and Teapots: Archaeological Evidence for the Exported Wares of the Caledonian Pottery, Rutherglen, and Its Role in Glasgow’s Ceramic International Trade and Industry
Chris Jarrett, Morag Cross, and Alistair Robertson
3. “A Trifling Matter”?: State Branding on Stoneware Bottles, 1812–1834
Jennifer Basford
4. Uncovering and Recovering Cleared Galloway: The Role of Documents in Rural Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Lowland Scotland
C. Broughton Anderson
5. The Fall of Big Hair: Hair Curlers as Evidence of Changing Fashions
Carolyn L. White
6. Food as Material Culture in a Nineteenth-Century Ecclesiastical Community, Worcester, England
Richard Thomas
7. “Perfection and Economy”: Continuity and Change in Elite Dining Practices, ca. 1780–1880
Annie Gray
8. Material Culture in Miniature: The Historical Archaeology of Nineteenth-Century Miniature Objects
Ralph Mills
9. Artifacts of Mortuary Practice: Industrialization, Choice, and the Individual
Harold Mytum
10. “Home”-Made: Exploring the Quality of British Domestic Goods in Nineteenth-Century Urban Assemblages
Penny Crook
11. Shadows after Sunset: Imperial Materiality and the Empire’s Lost Things
James Symonds

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