The Rothwell Charnel Chapel Project Online

Dr Elizabeth Craig-Atkins, Lecturer in Human Osteology in the Department of Archaeology tells us about her new project which has recently received support from the Engaged Curriculum Fund.

This project will create an interactive, online portal for dissemination of research on the medieval charnel chapel and ossuary at Rothwell, Northamptonshire to students, researchers and the public. The support received from the Engaged Curriculum Fund will allow us to create a website for project-related materials ranging from video interviews with Rothwell residents to the findings of ongoing research. This resource will have two key audiences: students in the Archaeology Department, for whom the site will form an engaged research case study and a place to disseminate their own research on the charnel chapel; and Rothwell community members and the general public.

The subterranean charnel chapel at Rothwell houses one of only two remaining in situ medieval ossuaries (collections of human bones) in England. Ongoing research by doctoral student Jenny Crangle suggests that many more charnel chapels were once in existence but that most were cleared during the Reformation in the 16th century. The survival of Rothwell charnel chapel and ossuary creates a unique research opportunity to further understand medieval funerary practice and explore the relationship between Rothwell’s current community with this unique and compelling part of their heritage.

The Rothwell Charnel Chapel Project Online will provide a key means of integrating the project more firmly and creatively in the curriculum. It will achieve this by:

  1. Providing an online, accessible location where staff and student research can be disseminated together
  2. Creating a forum for communication of our research to the community, reflecting its importance to us as both a research and educational endeavour
  3. Creating a case study of engaged research in practice

The project will begin in February 2015 and run throughout the spring and summer. Further blog posts will detail our progress.

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