Drinking horns, griffins’ eggs, and cups made from tropical nuts were far from commonplace goods, yet they can be found in many more English households in the later Middle Ages than one might imagine from the scant number of these vessels to survive. This paper looks at who possessed special drinking vessels like these, and analyses wills and inventories for evidence of the practices associated with them, especially the memorial and commemorative role they played for families and communal bodies. Questions of origin and value are addressed, and the paper sets these goods in the context of drinking practices more generally.
Late medieval brick houses are more likely to survive as ruin and the presentation asks why this is so. Examples include Someries Castle, near Luton, Bedfordshire; Nether Hall, Roydon, Essex; Rye House, Hertfordshire; Caister Castle, Norfolk; Tattershall Castle, Lincolnshire. Potential reasons are amalgamation of estates, families without direct heirs of either gender, neglect of unused structures, change in economic fortunes of owners, sales of land (on which the house stands) to persons with several houses already, the house is out of date, or parts of house are just too big to pull down, such as the gatehouse. These reasons are not mutually exclusive. Survival as an occupied house relies on continuity of ownership: Bedingfield family at Oxburgh Hall, Norfolk, being a classic case. Survival of a partly-built house which is still occupied could be because the structure is manageable for a less wealthy family: Layer Marney, Essex, or Middleton Hall, Norfolk, being examples.
The usual approach when trying to examine diasporas holds its emphasis on males and male burials. A number of scholars have demonstrated that women should no longer be perceived as passive members of the household whose major responsibilities were giving birth, taking care of children and/or animals, and engaging in cooking or weaving activities. At the same moment it should be emphasised that the notion is far stronger in Western Europe than in Eastern parts and in the West more and more has been written on the role of women in the Late Iron Age. In our part of Europe [Latvia], the ideas on redefining the role of women and their power are still relatively new. The conclusion, based on grave goods, is, that there were different groups of Scandinavians coming over the Baltic Sea – more of the female grave goods tends to be of Gotlandic origin while men’s tends to be of Central Sweden – Lake Mälaren valley. Sex (and gender) was determined only from grave goods as in earlier period there was no osteological analysis done at all. It is possible (in Grobiņa as well as in other places of Europe), that some of the graves excavated earlier which were identified as belonging to men (on the basis of male objects that accompanied the deceased) may have actually belonged to biological females and an axe or spear was used as a gender objective. Unfortunately without further analysis this re-gendering is impossible, but the author of the paper will try to make some conclusions regarding the place and role of women in Grobiņa society; also the mutual impact between local Curonians and Scandinavian colonists will be assessed.