Recording Merovingians! Symposium 9th December

To celebrate the progress of the Rural Riches database we are hosting the symposium ‘Recording Merovingians!’ at the Faculty of Archaeology of Leiden University on December 9th 2022.

As many of you probably know, we have been working on an online database collecting archaeological sites and historical attestations dating to the Merovingian Period in Northern Gaul (450-725). Up to now we have recorded information on 6873 sites and 1338 attestations, filled the bibliography with 9250 references, counted immense numbers of beads, brooches and glass vessels, recorded the location of finds in graves, and much more. This database will be a major instrument for future research on the Merovingian period.

We have been collecting sites in this database since the start of the RURAL RICHES project, which is financed by the European Research Council (ERC) under grant number 741340. You can find more information on the project here.

Now the Rural Riches project is coming to an end, the time has come to launch the Webportal which provides access to this database. After the 9th of December, the URL will be:

The festive launch of this new research tool will take place on December the 9th at the faculty of Archaeology of Leiden University during a one-day symposium on ‘Recording Merovingians’. Speakers from abroad will present comparable initiatives in France, Austria and Germany and members of the project will present their research. The programme of the symposium can be found below.

You are kindly invited to attend the symposium and the launch of the portal. We will celebrate the launch at the end of the day with a small party. For those who cannot travel to Leiden the symposium and the launch can be followed online followed using this link:

If you would like to join us in Leiden on the 9th of December please send an email to (before December 3th) with your name, affiliation and dietary wishes so we can plan lunches, coffee and tea.

We hope to welcome you all in Leiden very soon!

Frans Theuws & the Rural Riches team

printscreen of database webportal with map and number of sites, finds and attestations
Preview of database web portal

Symposium Programme

9 December 2022
Faculty of Archaeology Leiden

Rural Riches Project

09.00 Coffee
09.30 Frans Theuws (Leiden University): Introduction to the project
09.55 Stephan Eichert (Naturhistorisches Museum Wien)/Nina Richards (Östereichische
Akademie der Wissenschaften): Recording early medieval cemeteries in Austria
10.20 Mette Langbroek (Leiden University): Networks and bead research

10.45 Break (30 min)

11.15 Cyrille Le Forestier (National Institute of Preventive Archaeological Research and
UMR6273, CRAHAM, University of Caen-Normandy): Recording early medieval
cemeteries in the Île the France
11.40 Femke Lippok (Leiden University): Burial rites and communities of practice
12.05 Susanne Brather-Walter (Universiät Freiburg): Digital beads of the Lauchheim

12.30 Lunch ( 60 min)

13.30 Jip Barreveld (Leiden University): The whereabouts of Merovingian kings
13.55 Rica Annaert (Flemish Heritage Agency): recording Merovingians in Belgium
14.20 Roeland Emaus (Leiden University): Digital Merovingians

14.45 break (30 min)

15.15 Phillip von Rummel (Deutsches Archäologische Institut): Recording Merovingians in
15.40 Frans Theuws/David Schaper (Leiden University): The Rural Riches database
16.05 Launch of the Portal by Phillip von Rummel

16.15 Drinks

Rural Riches in Huy

On February 28th and March 21st the entire Rural Riches team attended a conference in the town of Huy (Belgium), located along the river Meuse. Several excavations in Huy have uncovered evidence for craft activities, indicating that the town was a significant center for early medieval production. Over the course of the Merovingian period, all major artisanal crafts were practiced here, including the production of pottery, glass, iron, copper alloy, bone and antler.

Catherine Péters and Sophie de Bernardy de Sigoyer present an overview of the excavations from Huy.

The conference was organised by Catherine Péters and Sophie de Bernardy de Sigoyer from the AWaP (l’Agence wallonne du Patrimoine), in cooperation with Line van Wersch from the Rural Riches project. It was attended by archaeologists, material specialists, historians and other researchers from Wallonia and beyond. Rural Riches team members Frans Theuws and Martine van Haperen presented a general introduction to the RR project and an inter-regional perspective on the production from Huy. Line van Wersch presented the results of her studies on the pottery production sites from Huy.

The craft center in Huy will be a central case study for the Rural Riches project, in our research on the modus operandi of Merovingian artisans. We are grateful for the generous spirit of the AWaP in allowing us to work with this material, which is currently still partially unpublished.

Line van Wersch presents her work on the pottery production from Huy.
The conference was attended by material specialists, historians and other researchers.

The Pyre & the Grave

In December 2018 Femke Lippok, our PhD member working on changing burial rites organised a conference drawing attention to the much neglected cremation burials in early medieval continental archaeology. Experts from Belgium, Germany, the UK and the Netherlands came together to discuss the occurrence and interpretation of this intriguing way of disposal of the dead. The graves are interesting on their own accord, and in addition they point out the minimal attention that has been paid to variability and compatibility of diverse grave types. The conference started out from the premise of considering local burial repertoires from a bottom-up perspective. Discussions on how a grave is constructed in a social sense, how decisions surrounding funerals were made,  what social aspects have a role in dealing with death were focal points.  
We’d like to thank all participants for making this expert meeting a success. From Brussel, Dries Tys, Rica Annaert and Sarah Dalle were present. Raimund Masanz came all the way from Berlin. Egge Knol travelled from Groningen and Howard Williams from Chester. Frans Theuws, Martine van Haperen, Arjan Louwen and myself were participants from Leiden.

If this sparks your interest, read the well written description of the talks and discussions by Howard Williams here.

Rural Riches & Royal Rags? – conference at Leiden University

In celebration of Frans Theuws’ 65th birthday, the Rural Riches & Royal Rags- conference and book presentation was held at Leiden University on the 29th of June. The one day conference attracted many guests and speakers from all over Europe and was thoroughly enjoyed. A big thank you to the organising committee: Roos van Oosten, Ady Roxburgh, Mirjam Kars, Arno Verhoeven and Bregt Balk.

The book is available via spa-uitgevers.


Rural Riches at the EAA in Barcelona

Four members of the Rural Riches project will be presenting at the EAA in Barcelona in September 2018. Frans Theuws will present a paper about the reinterpretation of the distribution of sceatta coins titled ‘Rethinking sceatta’s and the economy of northwestern Europe in the 8th century’ in the session ‘ Silver, status and society ‐ transition from late Roman to Early Medieval Europe’.

Line van Wersch will be talking about ‘Early medieval tesserae in northwestern Europe. Long distance trade or local supply?’ in the session ‘Pirenne vs. Glass: The contribution of archaeological and archaeometric glass analysis to the study of early medieval long‐distance trade networks’.

Mette Langbroek’s presentation is titled ‘Rural Riches: on beads and anarchy in Merovingian Northwestern Europe’ in the session ‘‘…In with the New!’: The future of archaeological research in Medieval Europe’

Martine van Haperen will talk about economic implications of grave reopenings in a presentation titled ‘Deposition, transformation, retrieval: the value of objects from reopened graves’ in the session ‘Revamping value(s): on the destruction of value during the Bronze and Iron Age in Europe and the Mediterranean’.

Barcelona EAA