Remembering Winchester’s Medieval Jews: Compromises in Hidden Histories
Paper given by Toni Griffiths
Delivered at ‘Jewish Heritage Tourism in the Digital Age’ Conference, Venice, 24 October 2017
The history of England’s medieval Jews is significant in its own right, and it is vital to the understanding of the political and social history of the region at the time. However, it has often been marginalised, and frequently overshadowed by other local narratives. The common explanation offered by museum and tourism services for this, is that there have been few archaeological discoveries of displayable quality. There are places where this chapter of history has been acknowledged, but they have tended to have an overtly negative focus, reflecting the post-Holocaust/Shoah trend in ‘dark tourism’; attracting visitors to sites historically associated with death and tragedy. The discovery of medieval burial sites, thought to be Jewish, promised a new impetus to medieval Jewish memory, as a result the knowledge that would have been gained from the study of these remains. But, this did not materialise as the sites were not fully excavated, remains were not securely identified as Jewish, and/or the excavations were not published. Issues were also raised about owdnership and responsibility towards the remains.
Toni Griffiths has a first class BA Hons. degree in History and an MA in Jewish History and Culture from the University of Southampton. From 2014-2015 Toni worked as part of a team coordinated by Dr Christina Welch (University of Winchester) to launch the city’s first medieval Jewish Walking Trail. She is currently a fully-funded PhD student at the University of Winchester working on her thesis ‘The Journey of Memory: Forgetting and Remembering England’s Medieval Jews’.