The relationship between archaeology and history is continually experiencing modifications, by reason of their historical development and altering research objectives. These particular scientific and academic studies are outlined with a high degree of overlap and a mutual dependence upon another (Tabaczynski 1993:1).
Archaeology as a rule is created through the continual process of the deposition of artefacts created, transformed and discarded by humans. Archaeological material is the record of human presence and activities and thus a source of information of the social past. Historical texts however, are the discontinuous process of making information permanent with the objective being to impart the text with contemporaries and future masses. Where it is present therefore, historical texts can border into the assemblage of unceasing archaeological evidence (Tabaczynski 1993:3).
In the medieval period, an ...view middle of the document...
However, such previous insight of a site can create a conceptual and logistical hindrance for the archaeologist (Austin 1990:11).
By using medieval licenses to crenellate and other historical sources, Charles Coulson in his 1979 paper ‘Structural symbolism in medieval castle architecture’ was able to challenge the perceived ideology of castles being defensive and military architecture and argues that they are in fact ‘houses of men’ exercising displays of their social status. Bodiam castle in Sussex is one such castle in which Coulson argues his case with. There is a great debate in regards to the purpose of the castle; defence or wealthy home. Following Coulson’s written work on Bodiam castle, a team from the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England (RCHME) had conducted archaeological survey work upon earthworks surrounding the site (Platt 2007:85). The RCHME had concluded in their survey report and paper ‘Bodiam castle, Sussex’ that majority of the earthworks were the remains of elaborate gardens and a sculptured landscape created in order to enhance the appearance of the castle (Taylor et al 1990:155). It can be argued here that due to the previous written work upon the site, the team would have conducted the field survey under the influence of Coulson’s work which according to Platt, was a very influential idea at the time. There would have been a difficulty to consider or think beyond the interpretation as they would of felt bound to pay particular attention to such detail due to the apparent link made by Coulson to the surrounding social landscape (Austin 1990:12).
This case study in particular is an example of the relationship between historical and archaeological approaches; in this case, archaeological approaches were used to support a historical approach however there are limits as well as the positives. Historical documents have their own biases and imperfections, but can be applied by archaeologists to help inform their excavations and interpretations.