International Journal of Historical Archaeology

, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 366–384 | Cite as

“Crestspeak”: British Military Crested Ceramics, Military Socialization, and Collective Memory

  • Paul A. Demers


In many parts of the world, excavations of British military sites have unearthed material reflecting lifeways in the British Empire. Specifically, studies of historical ceramics and glass have greatly advanced our understanding of status and material expression. This study highlights the current body of knowledge on British military crested ceramics, contrasting the rarity of archaeological finds with their abundance in documentary sources. An elemental stylistic analysis reveals that these crests expressed regimental affiliation as the fundamental unit of self-identification. Symbolic interpretation of these crests stresses their active role in the socialization of officers and structuring collective memory, particularly through the mess institution.


Symbolism Socialization Memory Ceramics British military 



I would like to give special thanks Jon Jouppien for sharing his expertise in these crested ceramics, and for all of his support in the writing of this article. I would also like to thank Gaye Blake Roberts, Lynn Miller, and the Trustees and Staff of the Wedgwood Museum for all of their assistance in researching these crests. Further, I would like to thank those who have read and commented on drafts of this article: William Lovis and Helen Pollard, Michigan State University; Elizabeth Demers, Potomac Publishing; Douglas Scott, and LuAnn Wandsnider, University of Nebraska-Lincoln; and Teresita Majewski and David Barker for their thoughtful and constructive reviews of this article. I also want to thank Robert Kilts of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for his assistance with the key diagram graphic.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of Nebraska-LincolnLincolnUSA

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