Keith Scholes

Research project

Approaches to the Study of Communication around the European Atlantic Seaboard and Islands in the Early Medieval Period

The Early  Medieval period, dating from the decline of the Western Roman empire in the 5th century AD to the late 11th  century, appears to be a period of extensive and active communication despite its depiction by some as the Dark Ages.  The nature of  communication during the period includes cultural and trade relations as well as hostile raiding and possibly larger scale invasions.  These interactions took place over a wide area and occurred at scales ranging from local contacts between towns and their hinterlands, inter-regional connections over land or sea-routes, to extended links such as those between Northern Europe and the Islamic East.

The purpose of this study is to examine the nature of these interactions, particularly those involved with trade and cultural exchange, by considering contacts between the North Atlantic Seaboard and European islands such as Britain and Ireland.  In addition to the geographic scope of the project, archaeological sites from a variety of dates within the period will be included so as to provide a temporal dimension to the project.  In order to accomplish the objectives of the study my intention is to gather information from a variety of sources, primarily artefactual data from both on-line databases and published site reports.  This material will be collated in a project specific database along with other relevant information so as to provide a contextual basis for the evidence. 

Network analysis will be used to provide a methodological framework for the project allowing both visual and quantitative analyses of the collected data.  This will be accomplished by extracting information from the project database, which will be used as input to one or more of the generally available analytical software packages such as UCINET or Pajek. By using information obtained from different time slices within the data and comparing the resultant networks  it is hoped that it will be possible to observe dynamic changes in the nature of trade and communications over time within the area of study.

In order to provide a focus for the study the derived networks will be compared with those predicted by existing models of trade within the study period such as those of Hodges and McCormick.


Originally from Lancashire I have lived in York for over 30 years (apart from a 2 year sojourn in Hampshire) since completing a biology degree here in 1976.  During that time I worked mostly in computer support at Rowntree Mackintosh (later Nestle), the confectionary factory in York.  On taking voluntary redundancy/early retirement in 2006 I decided to follow a long standing interest and took a further degree in archaeology, one thing led to another and I am now in the first year of a PhD.

Other interests include bird watching, photography and spending far more on archaeology books than I can possibly afford.

Keith Scholes

Contact details

Keith Scholes
Department of Archaeology
University of York
The King's Manor

Tel: (44) 1904 433931
Fax: (44) 1904 433902