Interview with Kelly Clarke

Our next seminar will be taken by Kelly Clarke on 23rd October 2017. As usual tea and biscuits will be served at 17:40 with the seminar starting at 18:00. Below we talked to Kelly about the excitement of early medieval research and ideas for the BBC! 

Tell us a bit about yourself, where are you from?

I grew up and still live in an old mining village in the North-East, though I like to tell fellow early medievalists ‘Bernicia’ to make it sound less grim!

What brought you to Durham?

I completed my BA and MA at Durham and received funding for a PhD which was great because I’m a homebird at heart. I also established a fantastic relationship with my supervisors during my earlier studies and wasn’t quite ready to walk away from that yet.

What is your favourite thing about the medieval/early modern period?

Studying the early medieval period is pretty exciting because you can’t rely on one piece of evidence and have the opportunity to cross disciplines. I’ve had the opportunity to work with so many different types of surviving evidence in the past four years and no week is ever the same!

What does your research focus on?

My PhD examines the political, economic and ‘long’ distance interactions between the Merovingians and Anglo-Saxons in the seventh century through a comparison of the surviving material culture, numismatic, manuscript and written evidence. It’s been quite an eye-opener (and a challenge!) to see how differently scholars in France and Britain have assessed evidence and approach the early medieval period, but I definitely think transnational approaches should be more strongly encouraged.

What do you plan to focus on in your seminar?

There are so many points I could pull out of my research, but I’ve chosen coinage because it’s a relatively ‘new’ form of evidence. I’m going to use the coins to see what we can learn about the connections between the Merovingians and Anglo-Saxons during the seventh century and encourage you to share your opinions and thoughts with me. At the very least, I’d hope that you will go away wanting to buy a metal detector to ‘do your bit’!

If you were not in academia, what would you be doing?

I’d still be working at Beamish Museum as a costumed demonstrator!

Do you have a favourite medieval/early modern text?

Stephen of Ripon’s Life of Saint Wilfrid. I encourage everyone to read this because the scandal and drama is a page turner and will make you want the BBC to produce a drama series!


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