Reconstructing St. Katharinen: Archival Archaeology in Action

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Timothy Joseph Senior


Lying near the heart of Bremen, the St. Katharinen district is bounded by two of the city’s principal medieval, and now modern, streets. As one of the earliest documented structures on the site, the Dominican monastery of St. Katharinen has come to define much of the urban fabric of the district. A substantial building complex, it served a variety of scholarly, commercial, military and domestic roles following the Reformation, not least housing the city armory, State library and the city’s first university. Subject to periods of extensive redevelopment, much of the complex was finally lost to the bombing raids of the Second World War and a traffic-widening scheme of the 1970s. Only a fragment now remains of the original claustral buildings, a multistory car park erected on piloti rising overhead.

Over successive redevelopments, the site was cleared with minimal archaeological investigation. Further, little scholarly research been conducted on the site to date. As such, any attempt to reconstruct the appearance of St Katharinen is now an act of inference from archival sources: a process of archival archaeology. As part of ongoing work, I will present a new and emerging understanding of the St Katharinen district and its urban transformation across the centuries, drawing on the most extensive body of construction, land registry, visual, textual, laser scanning and Lidar data yet assembled for the site. Whilst a project of this kind is grounded in the traditional approaches of historical architectural research, it is the capacity to assemble and analyze these diverse data sources within common digital environments that makes this conjectural reconstruction work possible.


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How to Cite
Senior, T. J. (2018). Reconstructing St. Katharinen: Archival Archaeology in Action. Studies in Digital Heritage, 2(2), 166–176.
Cultural Heritage and New Technologies 2017
Author Biography

Timothy Joseph Senior, University of the West of England

At UWE, Senior’s research focuses on how traditional forms of disciplinary activity in the arts, sciences and humanities might be opened up to new collaborative influences, a process of creatively challenging disciplinary values, methodologies and products to drive innovative lines of shared inquiry. Senior's current postdoctoral work concerns the design of a creative economy Hub for Arts and Health (with a dementia focus – Dementia Connect). His research interests have led to diverse artistic, scholarly and teaching activities in the areas of experimental neuroscience, art-science practices, medieval art history, digital humanities and the social and political sciences.


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