PhD Student Profile

Tim van Tongeren

Tim van Tongeren

PhD Student

School: School of Humanities

Campus: Canterbury

Project title

Comparative research into contact and relationships between the Netherlands and Kent in the period AD 400 – 750, through a holistic analysis of funerary data.

Biographical Note

Tim is a fulltime PhD scholarship student in archaeology. He obtained a degree in the subject of archaeology from Leiden University in the Netherlands in 2014. For his BA thesis, he studied architectural development of Early Medieval monasteries in Belgium, Luxembourg and northern France.

Tim completed his MA degree, in the subject of Early Medieval Archaeology, with a Distinction in 2016, at Cardiff University. His MA dissertation research focussed on the connection between the Netherlands and England in the Early Medieval period through the analysis and comparison of a number of cemeteries in both countries. The findings presented in this thesis formed the basis for a much more extensive PhD project on the same topic.

Tim’s main research interest is cross-North Sea contact between Britain, continental Europe and Scandinavia in the Early Medieval period. Also, his interest goes out to the process of Christianisation, development of ecclesiastical sites and the material culture of the Anglo-Saxons, Merovingian Francs, Frisians and Scandinavians.

During his degree studies, Tim took part in various fieldwork projects in different European countries. He assisted at an excavation of a Merovingian settlement site in 2012 in Oegstgeest - the Netherlands. He excavated a Gallo-Roman settlement site and amphitheatre in 2013 in the village of Châteaubleau in northern France. In 2014, he gained experience in excavating and analysing the material culture of the Anglo-Saxons at a settlement- and production site in Sedgeford – Norfolk. During his MA studies, Tim worked as a volunteer, together with the archaeologist from the National Trust in south Wales, on writing-up of an 1980’s excavation at one of their sites.

Research Outline

Europe saw large-scale cultural upheaval and demographic change during the period AD 400-750. Archaeologists specialising in this Early Medieval period postulate large-scale contact between Germany, Scandinavia and England as a dominant factor in these changes — with the Netherlands playing a rather uncertain role in the centre.

Tim’s research aims to investigate the value of this general model though detailed evaluation and comparison of evidence from funerary archaeology in the Netherlands and Kent. Newly available data from excavations in the Netherlands now makes a holistic study of burial practices possible. Comparisons of funerary contexts from both areas will be made on the following key point:

  • Material culture (grave goods).
  • Relations of the cemeteries with the wider landscape and nearby settlement evidence.
  • Funerary practices and customs (coffin use, grave pit size, orientation, special features).
  • Demography (male-female ratio, age structure).
  • Layout of the cemeteries (alignment, grouping, chronological structure)

To conduct a valid comparison between the Netherlands and Kent, it is important to first establish a detailed chronological framework for the Dutch Early Medieval material culture. To achieve this, similar research done on funerary contexts in Kent is taken as a starting point and source of inspiration. The artefacts from cemeteries in the Netherlands will be studied with the help of Correspondence Analysis to create a chronology which is as clear and detailed as possible.

The aim of this study is to answer several research questions regarding contact and relationships between the Netherlands and Kent, of which the following are most prominent:

  • How accurate is the dating of Merovingian cemeteries in the Low Countries and can this be improved with use of Correspondence Analysis?
  • What changes can be seen in burial practice in the Netherlands and in Kent between AD 400-750, and do these changes show similarities?
  • What is known or may be suggested about the geographical origin of the people buried?
  • Could geographical origin explain features in burial practice/furnishing of graves?
  • What reflections of religion and status can be found in graves in both areas?
  • Is there funerary evidence of religious and social change during the period?
  • What regional differences are visible within Kent and/or the Netherlands? 
  • What are the differences in burial practice/grave furnishing between different age groups and/or sexes in both areas?
  • What does the result of this holistic analysis tell about the Migration Period, and relationships and contacts between both areas?

Supervisory Team

  • Dr. Andy Seaman (First supervisor)
  • Dr. Leonie Hicks (Second supervisor)
  • Professor Louise Wilkinson (Chair)
  • Professor John Hines (Cardiff University – External project advisor)

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Last edited: 13/12/2018 21:01:00