Dr. Bailey K. Young and Dr. Debra A. Reid have been awarded a PFRCA grant to support their collaborative project, “Walhain: Landscape of Domination. The Origins and Transformations of a Medieval Lordship,” which will expand the Walhain archaeological site into a major site for investigation into agrarian and rural history.
Dr. Bailey Young has managed an international project to document an early medieval farming estate on the south side of Walhain-Saint-Paul, Belgium since 1998. The project has involved 110 undergraduate and 8 graduate students from 62 universities, including 12 undergraduate and 6 graduate students from EIU, over these years. These students have worked on excavations led by faculty from at least four universities, but Dr. Bailey Young has provided intellectual direction as well as instruction to students through study abroad experiences for all 15 years. The international partnership has allowed students unique opportunities to engage with faculty through archaeological field work, artifact stabilization and documentation through lab work, coursework in medieval history and culture, and research into written evidence of the early middle ages. The project has continued due to Dr. Young’s commitment, diversified fundraising, and international networks, all critical to sustaining the project.
The Walhain Project, since its inception in 1998, has pursued two linked goals: to provide a unique, interdisciplinary study abroad experience in medieval archaeology, and to conduct an innovative international research program centered on the excavation of Walhain Castle (near Louvain-la-Neuve, Brabant Wallon). It has been largely financed, through 2012, through the fees paid by the American students signed up for the Summer Archaeology Program in Belgium, administered by the School of Continuing Education at
Eastern Illinois University (EIU). The Centre de Recherches d’Archéologie Nationale (CRAN), based at the Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL) in Louvain-la-Neuve, our principal partner in this project, has contributed its infra-structure, expertise, and personnel to make the four-week excavation which is at the heart of the academic program possible. UCL students have also worked regularly alongside the American students, further enriching the Study Abroad experience.
The 2014 study abroad experience marks an expansion in goals that will enhance the site’s prestige by showcasing evidence of agriculture as practiced by the pre-modern peasants on an early lordship. It will also build on the local initiative to protect the property with a feasibility study to launch an interpretive center and institute to study pre-modern
The European Rural History Organization (Eur-Ho) began in 2010, dedicated to European rural and agricultural history. The second conference, convened in Bern, Switzerland in September 2013, provided a forum for medieval scholars to converse about diverse definitions of the uneven origins of lordships in the middle ages, and the factors that affected the ways lords and other religious or political units administered the landscape that fed the population. Dr. Reid has been involved in this organization from the beginning, and the board has selected Louvain, Belgium, as the site of the 2017 meeting. This will be the perfect opportunity to feature the by then twenty-year international partnership that preserved, documented, and interpreted what is a relatively rare early medieval site. This conference will provide the opportunity to engage in an international dialog about the history of food and politics, the consequences to the landscape and environment, and to the evolution of agricultural markets and market systems over time