Public lecture: Archaeology, common rights and the origins of ‘Britishness’

A free public lecture will explore the ancient right of commoning and its associated values of what it means to be British, at the University on Wednesday 31 October.

Rights of common, especially those exercised on pasture, are still practised across Britain. They are believed to have originated after the withdrawal of Roman administration from Britain in about 410 AD and before the Norman Conquest in 1066.

This lecture by Dr Susan Oosthuizen, will assess the archaeological evidence for the management of prehistoric pasture, and asks whether it is possible that common rights were already traditional by the time the Anglo-Saxons arrived. It goes on to suggest that although commoning is practised only by a minority today, the values around which it is structured are alive and well and can be found in almost every formal and informal organisation, providing the foundation of our understanding of what it is to be British.

Dr Susan Oosthuizen is a senior lecturer for the historic landscape at the University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education. She is a member of the McDonald Institute of Archaeological Research in the University’s Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, a Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge and of the Society of Antiquaries of London.

A native South African, she received her university education largely in Britain, at the Universities of Southampton, London and Cambridge. Her research and teaching interests are focused on the origins of medieval villages, fields and pastures.

The lecture is part of the University’s General University Lecture Programme (GULP). Others in the series include:

7 November - No job for a woman – Industrial chemist Dr Barry Maule provides an insight into women’s contributions to the manufacture of explosives and shell filling in the First World War.
14 November - A sustainable future for wildlife and people - Head of Learning at Bristol Zoo Simon Garrett looks at the challenges facing a sustainable future.

The lecture is taking place in Lecture Theatre 8 West 1.1 and starts at 5.15pm. Free parking is available in the West Car Park after 5pm.

For more information about the University’s Autumn 2012 GULP programme, please email or call 01225 386587.

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