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The Landscape Archaeology of Anglo-Saxon England

The Landscape Archaeology of Anglo-Saxon England

Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 244
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  • Book Info
    The Landscape Archaeology of Anglo-Saxon England
    Book Description:

    Traditional opinion has perceived the Anglo-Saxons as creating an entirely new landscape from scratch in the fifth and sixth centuries AD, cutting down woodland, and bringing with them the practice of open field agriculture, and establishing villages. Whilst recent scholarship has proved this simplistic picture wanting, it has also raised many questions about the nature of landscape development at the time, the changing nature of systems of land management, and strategies for settlement. The papers here seek to shed new light on these complex issues. Taking a variety of different approaches, and with topics ranging from the impact of coppicing to medieval field systems, from the representation of the landscape in manuscripts to cereal production and the type of bread the population preferred, they offer striking new approaches to the central issues of landscape change across the seven centuries of Anglo-Saxon England, a period surely foundational to the rural landscape of today.BR> Nicholas J. Higham is Professor of Early Medieval and Landscape History at the University of Manchester; Martin J. Ryan lectures in Medieval History at the University of Manchester. Contributors: Nicholas J. Higham, Christopher Grocock, Stephen Rippon, Stuart Brookes, Carenza Lewis, Susan Oosthuizen, Tom Williamson, Catherine Karkov, David Hill, Debby Banham, Richard Hoggett, Peter Murphy.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-878-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Contributors
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xi-xi)
  6. Abbreviations
    (pp. xii-xii)
  7. 1 The Landscape Archaeology of Anglo-Saxon England: An Introduction
    (pp. 1-22)

    This volume is one of a pair to emerge from a conference on the Landscape of Anglo-Saxon England hosted in 2007 by the Manchester Centre for Anglo-Saxon Studies (MANCASS) at the University of Manchester. It features exploration of the Anglo-Saxon landscape primarily via archaeological and/or art historical methodologies, leaving those approaches which are more specifi-cally text and/or place-name based for the companion volume.² Naturally, this collection incorporates a wide spectrum of papers of different lengths and types, some dealing with quite specific issues or categories of data but some with major research questions and/or periods. Of course, it does not...

  8. 2 Barriers to Knowledge: Coppicing and Landscape Usage in the Anglo-Saxon Economy
    (pp. 23-38)

    The purpose of this paper is to explore some of the implications of the use of coppiced wood – hazel, rowan, willow and so forth – for our understanding of the exploitation of the landscape in the Anglo-Saxon period. The discussion is informed by the author’s experience in reconstruction archaeology. Much raw data was obtained from experience as Project Director of the Bede’s World Museum in Jarrow, and was illuminated and informed by discussion with a number of suppliers of material to the project, notably Jonathan Howe, of Stockbridge, Hampshire, who was largely responsible for bringing coppiced rods to the site in...

  9. 3 Landscape Change during the ‘Long Eighth Century’ in Southern England
    (pp. 39-64)

    England’s is a rich and varied landscape. A fifteenth-century traveller making the journey from Exeter in the South-West, to Oxford in the South Midlands, and then across to Ipswich in East Anglia would have witnessed a wide variety of countrysides, with scattered farmsteads and small hamlets set within predominantly enclosed fields around Exeter, the ‘champion’ countryside of villages surrounded by vast open fields in the Midlands, and another area of dispersed settlement and a predominantly enclosed fieldscape across in the southern part of East Anglia (Fig. 3.1). The origins of this broad tripartite division in landscape character, which was first...

  10. 4 Population Ecology and Multiple Estate Formation: The Evidence from Eastern Kent
    (pp. 65-82)

    One of the more widely encountered narratives of territorial development in early medieval England focuses on the existence of large multi-vill estates in the Early to Middle Anglo-Saxon period (c. 400—850) and their subsequent fragmentation into the smaller manorial units recorded by Domesday Book. The details of thesemultipleorfederateestates are not entirely clear, nor is the theory itself uncontroversial.¹ However, there remains a consensus that the early medieval productive landscape was organized into large territories from which tribute was extracted through important central places. The essential features of these territories were the links created between functionally...

  11. 5 Exploring Black Holes: Recent Investigations in Currently Occupied Rural Settlements in Eastern England
    (pp. 83-106)

    This paper reviews the results to date of an ongoing archaeological research project at the University of Cambridge into the historic development of currently occupied rural settlements (CORS), and considers their implications for our understanding of the development of the Anglo-Saxon rural settlement pattern. Until recently, most excavation of Anglo-Saxon and medieval rural settlement has focused on sites which are now deserted,¹ with much less attention given to sites which are lived in today. This is largely due to the apparent invisibility of the evidence, lack of opportunities for developer-funded excavation and difficulties (both real and perceived) of gaining access...

  12. 6 Medieval Field Systems and Settlement Nucleation: Common or Separate Origins?
    (pp. 107-132)

    For more than a century, historians and archaeologists have explained the emergence in the Anglo-Saxon period of open and common fields and nucleated settlement as the contemporary products of a new, co-ordinated approach by Germanic migrants and/or their descendants to improving the efficiency of agricultural production. Protagonists have argued about whether the social relationships underpinning this change were proto-manorial or an expression of community decision-making, but have not disagreed that these features were linked or that they emerged in the post-Roman period.

    ‘Nucleated’ settlement is concentrated in just one place in a township, rather than dispersed in scattered farms and...

  13. 7 The Environmental Contexts of Anglo-Saxon Settlement
    (pp. 133-156)

    It has become unfashionable in recent decades to seek to explain spatial patterns in the archaeological or historical record – whether distributions of artefacts or particular social or religious practices, on the one hand, or patterns of farming or settlement, on the other – in terms of environmental influences. Indeed, such approaches are castigated by many archaeologists as ‘environmental determinism’ and, in a discipline strongly influenced by post-modern and post-processual approaches, viewed as a negation of individual ‘choice’, and thus of the essential humanity of the past peoples whose lives it is our task to study.¹ Instead, patterns in the data are...

  14. 8 Calendar Illustration in Anglo-Saxon England: Realities and Fictions of the Anglo-Saxon Landscape
    (pp. 157-168)

    In the introduction to his edited volumeLandscape and Power, W. J. T. Mitchell outlined the ambiguity of the term ‘landscape’. ‘Landscape is’, he noted, ‘both a natural phenomenon, a real place, and an object of cultural mediation, a representation, even a simulacrum.’ As almost all the essays in that book went on to demonstrate, landscape is above all ‘an ideological “class view” to which “the painted image” gives “cultural expression”’.¹ Mitchell’s book deals exclusively with modern landscapes and modern (that is post-Renaissance) art, but the conclusions drawn are equally applicable to the Anglo-Saxon landscape and its representation – when and...

  15. 9 The Anglo-Saxon Plough: A Detail of the Wheels
    (pp. 169-174)

    A small but important group of illustrations of the plough and other agricultural equipment survives from late Anglo-Saxon and early Anglo-Norman England.¹ This has been discounted as contemporary evidence as to what was actually happening in the English countryside by several scholars, on the grounds that manuscript illustration rested heavily on the repetition of preexisting manuscript models dating ultimately back to the Ancient World.² This somewhat nihilistic view has, however, been cautiously challenged by Martin Carver,³ and more forthrightly by the author in 1998,⁴ making the case that theGerefa, an eleventh-century guide to estate management in Old English, demonstrates...

  16. 10 ‘In the Sweat of thy Brow Shalt thou eat Bread’: Cereals and Cereal Production in the Anglo-Saxon Landscape
    (pp. 175-192)

    Three major changes took place in arable farming during the Anglo-Saxon period. One was a change in the landscape, one in technology, and the third in the assemblage of crops that Anglo-Saxon farmers grew. The first, the reorganisation of much of England’s arable land into open fields, is already the object of a substantial body of scholarly work, so it might seem redundant to venture yet another account of this transformation.² But the intention in this paper is to explore the relationship there might have been between this major landscape change and the two other developments mentioned above, namely the...

  17. 11 The Early Christian Landscape of East Anglia
    (pp. 193-210)

    This paper explores aspects of the historical and archaeological evidence for the coming of Christianity to Anglo-Saxon East Anglia with a particular focus on the wide-scale restructuring of the landscape that the conversion precipitated (Fig. 11.1). In order to establish the historical framework within which these events sit, it begins with an examination of the evidence presented by Bede in theHistoria Ecclesiastica. Bede draws our attention to some of the ecclesiastical sites established by the early churchmen; a broader consideration of the conversion-period landscape reveals many important sites that are not mentioned in the surviving historical sources. In particular,...

  18. 12 The Landscape and Economy of the Anglo-Saxon Coast: New Archaeological Evidence
    (pp. 211-222)

    Stephen Rippon has provided a helpful framework within which to consider land-use in coastal wetlands during the first millennium AD.¹ He distinguishes three types of land-use.Exploitationwas simply making use of the available resources: salt itself, saltmarsh grazing, fisheries, wildfowl, sub-surface peat, and constructional materials.Modificationinvolved increasing productivity and utility, primarily by controlling water, by drainage and limited embankment of grazing and settlement areas.Transformation– the construction of sea-walls to exclude tidal waters, with permanent drainage systems landwards, and conversion of the former intertidal zone to grazing and arable – marked a fundamental disjunction with previous land-use. The landscape...

  19. Index
    (pp. 223-232)
  20. Back Matter
    (pp. 233-233)