Chris King is Assistant Professor in Archaeology at the University of Nottingham, and a Council Member of the Society for Medieval Archaeology. He is an expert in medieval towns and particularly the study of standing buildings and the use and meaning of space in urban houses. He has worked extensively on buildings and archaeology in the city of Norwich, one of England’s most important medieval trading centres, which is currently in press as a monograph Houses and Society in Norwich 1350-1660: Urban Buildings in the Age of Transition (Boydell 2020).
There are thousands of surviving medieval houses in towns and cities across England, and many large-scale archaeological excavations have taken place; together these provide us with an unrivalled opportunity to explore the social and economic lives of medieval townspeople. There was no clear division between ‘public’ and ‘private’ space in medieval towns as trade and craft production took place alongside domestic living, and people lived cheek-by-jowl in crowded urban centres. This lecture will use examples of houses from across the social spectrum – from wealthy merchants to artisans and poor widows – to explore how spaces and objects provide us with new insights about different modes of domestic life, social status and gender identities in the medieval city.