Compared to other historical periods, little is known about the early medieval era and it is often referred to as the 'Dark Ages'. Being able to use archaeology to shed light on this elusive period is what Dr Gabor Thomas finds so exciting and he is now inspiring the next generation of archaeologists through his early medieval research and teaching.
Gabor has conducted extensive excavations at Lyminge in Kent since 2008 and draws upon the project in his teaching to deepen students' understanding of life and society at the dawn of medieval civilizations. Many Reading students took part in the excavations and have engaged in the research through dissertations and project work undertaken via the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme (UROP).
The Lyminge excavations are agenda setting because they provide some of the earliest archaeological evidence for royal residency in Anglo-Saxon England - very early precursors of medieval palaces that form popular visitor attractions today. The regional perspective is particularly important because Kent was the earliest and most powerful of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, celebrated as the birthplace of kingship and the Christian church in England.
The archaeological results from Lyminge take us back to the origins of kingship and the activities that kings involved and invested themselves in, the most significant being elaborate royal ceremonies centred on feasting.
"We've now got a site where we can see royal identity and practices happening in a part of the country where kingship was invented. It's really interesting, we can begin to drill down and explore the details of the buildings and artefacts associated with the performance of royal feasting."