Pudding Seminar with Samantha Leggett (MCR)


‘Food and Faith in Anglo-Saxon England, the challenges of multi-disciplinary research’

The sixth to eighth centuries in Europe and the significant political, social and economic changes during this period, present an interesting set of challenges for scholars. These challenges are multi-scalar and go beyond the remit of any one discipline. Questions surrounding the catalysts and progress of such changes are complex, and scientific techniques such as stable isotope analysis and ancient DNA may offer new avenues for approaching them. This paper uses the case study of the Christianisation of Anglo-Saxon England to explore how biomolecular archaeology when used in conjunction with funerary archaeology and history can help elucidate some of these processes in the long seventh century and beyond.

This paper will present stable isotope data in conjunction with funerary evidence to see how and if changes in diet and mobility align with the conversion and Christianisation of Anglo-Saxon England. It will also explore the unique challenges and advantages of this kind of multi and interdisciplinary research, reflecting on best practice for collaborations with other disciplines and creating a multi-scalar and multi-proxy research project of this nature.

Samantha studied a BSc in Immunobiology combined with a BA (1st class honours) in Archaeology and Medieval Studies at the University of Sydney. Followed by a MA in History at the University of New England. Her previous theses all focussed on Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian Christianisation, with one winning the Maureen A. Byrne Prize for Best Archaeology Honours Thesis (USyd).

She was also a laboratory demonstrator and prosector in the Faculty of Science at Sydney, as well as an Education Officer at the Nicholson Museum, and Visitor Interpretation Officer for Sydney Living Museums.

Samantha’s research focuses on utilising stable isotope analysis to investigate cultural changes in 7th century Anglo-Saxon England. Themes of this research include changes in burial practice, diet, mobility and Christianisation. It aims to compare a wide geographical sample from across England and explore the impact of religious conversion with an expanding European identity during the early medieval period.

All Senior Members, Students, and Staff are warmly invited to attend the Pudding Seminars, which feature coffee, cake, and lively discussion! To allow people to get to 2pm appointments, please note that coffee and cake will be available from 1 o’clock with the Seminar starting promptly at 1.15pm.

Full details of all this term’s pudding seminars can be found on the
college website: