Matthew Johnson is Professor of Anthropology at Northwestern University, USA. He works on the archaeology of Europe and the Atlantic world and has written six books on a range of themes, including castles, traditional houses, landscape and an archaeology of capitalism. His best known book is Archaeological Theory: An Introduction of which the revised third edition appeared in 2019. More recently he has worked ‘in the field’ at Bodiam Castle and on nearby houses and landscapes in south-east England. In particular, this collaborative Anglo-American project has explored the castle and its surroundings as a living landscape of people of different social classes and identities.
This talk will discuss the ‘afterlife’ of the castle in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. How and why were medieval castles abandoned, destroyed, or re-used and re-built after the end of the Middle Ages? What meanings did castles have for Tudor and Stuart people, and how were those meanings transformed in the Renaissance? I shall look at castles like Kenilworth, where the buildings and wider landscape were the backdrop to the famous entertainments of Elizabeth and Leicester, and also further afield, to the tower-house tradition of Ireland and Scotland.