Call for Papers: Historical Transhumance in Europe (EAA 2015)

RHN 2/2015 | Call

Session organisers: Eugene Costello, NUI Galway; Mark Gardiner, Queen's University Belfast; Eva Svensson, Karlstad University

2-5 September 2015, UK

Deadline: 16 February 2015


21st Annual Meeting European of the Association of Archaeologists (EAA), Glasgow 2015
Historical Transhumance in Europe:
finding common ground in marginal landscapes


This session seeks papers on European transhumant farming in the period, AD 1200- 1950. Transhumance is a form of pastoralism that has been practiced around the world from early times and can vary hugely in form and scale according to the rhythms of the natural environment and human society. At its core, however, is the movement of livestock from one pasture to another on a seasonal basis. This movement is driven by a desire on the part of farmers to make sensible use of all grazing land available to them. Typically, livestock are brought to marginal pastures in hills, mountains, woodland, etc. at the start of summer and grazed there under the watch of herders until the approach of winter. They are then taken back to the winter settlement – often the main base of the family or community. Important work has already been carried out on the subject by geographers, historians and ethnographers, but it is really only in the last twenty years that archaeologists have started to think seriously about what they can contribute. This is a shame since the ruins of herders’ huts and houses are sometimes the clearest evidence we have of transhumance taking place in past centuries. This session hopes to bring together recent archaeological scholarship on historical transhumance and pose a number of questions. How do we reconcile archaeological evidence for transhumance with historical and ethnographic accounts for the period in question? What social and economic pressures come to bear on the transhumant way of life as we enter the post-medieval period, and can these be explained with reference to the archaeology? Can scholars of Mediterranean, Alpine, Northern European and other forms of transhumance learn from one another, or is research so fragmented as to preclude academic co-operation in this international way of farming?

Contact: Eugene Costello,