Wharram: past, present and future
23-25 March 2012, Department of Archaeology, University of York
The Philip Rahtz Lecture Theatre, The King’s Manor
Forty years of excavation and fieldwork at Wharram Percy came to an end in 1990. Constantly innovative, it was one of the most influential archaeological projects in Europe in the second half of the 20th century. Now, twenty-odd years later, and sixty years after Beresford and Hurst’s excavations began there, an ambitious programme of research and publication has been completed with the appearance of volume XIII of the Wharram series, A History of Wharram and its Neighbours. This is far more than a summary and overview; expert contributors have re-assessed all aspects of the Wharram story, offering sometimes radical reappraisals of previously-accepted conclusions which in a number of cases have a resonance and relevance which are far-reaching.
This celebratory conference, marking sixty years since Beresford and Hurst began their remarkable collaboration at Wharram, took the reappraisal provided in volume XIII as the starting point for further forward thinking and questioning: this event was forward-, not backward-looking.
Jointly sponsored and organised by the three organisations behind the Wharram Project – English Heritage, the University of York, and the Medieval Settlement Research Group – the conference was attended by a hundred delegates. It included a keynote address on the Friday evening by Simon Thurley (Chief Executive, English Heritage) on Wharram’s place in the history of medieval archaeology and state protection for ancient monuments, followed by a wine reception; on the Saturday a full programme of papers; and on Sunday the opportunity to visit Wharram for a guided tour by Al Oswald (with contributions by David Stocker and others), and to combine that with a visit to the English Heritage museum store at Helmsley to see finds from the excavations.