Log in
This page (revision-23) last changed on 22-Jun-2017 13:56 by Tina Roushannafas.
 







Page Contributors:




Powered by
JSPWiki v2.10.1
Dec-2014




6. EARLY MEDIEVAL (c. AD 410-1066): RESEARCH OBJECTIVES#

Early Medieval Updated Agenda and Research Objectives Table
Click here to see details of agenda themes and topics for this period.
For more information about each Research Objective, select from the links below:
Research Objective 6A Research Objective 6B Research Objective 6C Research Objective 6D Research Objective 6E Research Objective 6F Research Objective 6G Research Objective 6H Research Objective 6I Research Objective 6J


Research Objective 6A#

Elucidate the chronology and demography of the Roman to Anglo-Saxon transition period #

Summary:
The Roman-Anglo-Saxon transition has been identified as a key research theme, encompassing many of the Agenda topics highlighted above[1]. Study of this critical period of demographic and social change has been hampered by an over-reliance upon later and often flimsy historical sources[2]. It is proposed that current models of population change be tested by the application of radiocarbon dating and other scientific techniques to excavated material spanning the fifth and sixth centuries. In view of the paucity of confirmed early settlements, it is recommended that attention be focused upon identifying further settlements likely to date between the fifth and seventh centuries. By contrast, early cemeteries are common in the lowland zone, although many were excavated in the nineteenth century and have limited potential for more detailed study. Moreover, although some key sites have been fully published[3], the material from many cemeteries has yet to be fully analysed or made generally accessible[4]. An initial assessment of published and unpublished material is recommended to identify early burials yielding pots with charred residues suitable for high precision radiocarbon dating and/or human bones appropriate for stable isotope or DNA analyses. The compilation of a regional database of early cemeteries would also provide a useful framework for formulating strategies to ensure the publication of key backlog sites such as Loveden Hill in Lincolnshire[5]. Further insights into this period may also be gained from assessments of the finds recorded through the Portable Antiquities Scheme, which may highlight sites spanning this complex transition period.

Agenda topics addressed: 6.1.1-6.1.4; 6.2.1; 6.2.3; 6.4.4; 6.4.5

Archaeology of the East Midlands: 166-167

SHAPE 2008: Revealing ancient cultures (11111.610); Understanding past populations of Britain: historical demography and human biology (11111.710); New frontiers: clarifying poorly understood chronologies

NHPP 2011: Churchyards, cemeteries and burial grounds (4D2)

Other research frameworks:
EH National Heritage Science Strategy Report 2 2009: Sections 3.2.1 (Chronology) and 3.3.1 (People and environment).
Medieval Pottery Research Group 2011: National Priority A8 (Increasing the provision for scientific analysis of ceramics)

References:

Early Anglo-Saxon cemetery at Empingham, Rutland: adult male, buried with pot, copper alloy-bound wooden bucket, iron spearheads and other finds (Liddle et al 2000, 33-35; photograph courtesy of Nick Cooper)
Early Anglo-Saxon cemetery at Empingham, Rutland

Scroll down to continue looking at the Research Objectives or return to the Research Objective Table

Research Objective 6B#

Assess the landscape settings of Anglo-Saxon burial sites #

Summary:
Most publications of Anglo-Saxon cemeteries, barrows and other burial monuments have neglected landscape setting in favour of detailed descriptions of grave goods and burials and, with rare exceptions[6], investigations of burial sites have included little field investigation of the surrounding landscape and environment[7]. There is a pressing need for an assessment of current work on landscape setting and the contemporary environment, which in this region may be traced back to the pioneering work of Collis at the rich burial of Wigber Low in Derbyshire[8]. This should be followed by a detailed study of cemeteries and their settings through field surveys, ground-based geophysical surveys and aerial remote sensing techniques such as air photography and lidar. Particular emphasis should be placed upon the local geology and topography, with consideration of the relationship of cemeteries to physical features such as river channels and slopes and intervisibility with prominent landscape features and monuments. Recent palaeochannel surveys of the Lincolnshire Fens[9] and the Trent Valley[10] provide useful frameworks for analyses of the relationship of cemeteries to contemporary watercourses, and the collection and analysis of appropriate palaeoenvironmental data from these and other wetland environments should be encouraged. Consideration should also be given to local place names and folklore as well as the positioning of burials relative to contemporary settlements[11] and earlier funerary or ritual complexes, parish boundaries and Roman roads[12].

Agenda topics addressed: 6.1.3; 6.1.4; 6.2.1-6.2.6; 6.4.2

Archaeology of the East Midlands: 170, 278-279

SHAPE 2008: Understanding Place: assessing regional historic environment components (11111.170); Understanding past populations of Britain: historical demography and human biology (11111.710)

NHPP 2011: Identification of terrestrial assets via non-intrusive survey (3A4); Identification of wetland/waterlogged contexts (3A5); Churchyards, cemeteries and burial grounds (4D2)

Other research frameworks:
EH National Heritage Science Strategy Report 2 2009: Sections 3.3.1 (People and environment) and 3.5.1 (detecting and imaging)

References:

Wigber Low, Derbyshire: excavations of a Bronze Age cairn showed it to have been disturbed in the 7th century by the excavation of at least five graves, each associated with one or two inhumations with associated grave goods. The upland setting, with panoramic views of the White Peak, may have been a key factor in the choice of site (photograph: John Collis)
Wigber Low, Derbyshire: excavations of a Bronze Age cairn showed it to have been disturbed in the 7th century by the excavation of at least five graves

Scroll down to continue looking at the Research Objectives or return to the Research Objective Table

Research Objective 6C#

Review the evidence for developing settlement hierarchies#

Summary:
A review is recommended of the evidence for changes in the morphology of settlement and the development of settlement hierarchies[13], drawing in particular upon the data obtained from developer-funded excavations over the last two decades. This substantial body of evidence has for the most part not been assessed in the light of information obtained from landscape features, air photography, sculpture, place-names and data on metallic stray finds generated by the Portable Antiquities Scheme. Large-scale surveys of areas such as the Lincolnshire Fens[14], Northamptonshire[15] and Leicestershire[16] demonstrate the extent of settlement of this period, but the detail of chronology is masked by the limited typological variability of ceramic assemblages. This makes it difficult to establish whether structural agglomeration represents nucleation or simply successive occupation in approximately the same location[17]. An extension of landscape surveys, combined with published reviews of the wider evidence and the dissemination of information on settlement morphology and functions obtained from recent large-scale excavations at settlements such as Raunds[18] and Higham Ferrers[19] in Northamptonshire and Brough in Nottinghamshire[20] should be encouraged as a means of elucidating further these issues[21].

Agenda topics addressed: 6.4.1-6.4.5; 6.6.1; 6.6.2

Archaeology of the East Midlands: 172-174

SHAPE 2008: Understanding place: assessing regional historic environment components (11111.170); Tapping the motherlode: supporting synthesis of key commercial project research (11113.410)

NHPP 2011: Identification of terrestrial assets via non-intrusive survey (3A4)

References:

Brough, Nottinghamshire: excavations immediately north of the Roman town of Crococalana revealed a cluster of Anglo-Saxon sunken-floored structures and at least one post-pit building (above). As on so many sites, it remains unclear whether the density of structural remains reflects nucleation or successive rebuilding (photograph: Ray Holt; Vyner, B (ed) in prep `Archaeology on the A46 Fosse Way: Newark to Lincoln`)
Brough, Nottinghamshire: excavations immediately north of the Roman town of Crococalana revealed a cluster of Anglo-Saxon sunken-floored structures and at least one post-pit building

Scroll down to continue looking at the Research Objectives or return to the Research Objective Table

Research Objective 6D#

Investigate further the nature and extent of Anglo-Scandinavian settlement by reference to stone sculpture #

Summary:
Determination of the nature and extent of Scandinavian rural settlement and of the impact of Danish occupation upon the development of towns such as Lincoln[22] and Nottingham[23] remain major research priorities[24]. The region has revealed the only known Scandinavian cremation cemetery in Britain, at Ingleby in Derbyshire[25], but archaeological evidence for Viking settlement remains stubbornly elusive. Much, however, may be learned from the place-name evidence[26]. In addition, publication of the Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture for Lincolnshire has highlighted the potential of sculptured stonework as a data source for more detailed consideration of the extent and nature of Anglo-Scandinavian settlement[27]. Studies continue of stone sculpture across other East Midlands Counties[28], and when completed may identify distinctive settlement and artefact evidence elucidating the location and identity of Anglo-Scandinavian settlement. Overarching themes that might emerge from completion of this work, which could usefully be combined with a detailed reassessment of place-name data[29], include evidence for sub-regional variations in settlement patterns and the extent and nature of Hiberno-Norse contacts (both of which themes have been advanced from analysis of the sculptured stonework of Lincolnshire[30]).

Agenda topics addressed: 6.4.1-6.4.5

Archaeology of the East Midlands: 210-212

SHAPE 2008: Understanding place: assessing regional historic environment components (11111.170); Understanding place: researching regional diversity (11111.310); Revealing ancient cultures (11111.610).

References:
  • [#22] Jones, M J Stocker, D and Vince, A 2003. The City by the Pool: Assessing the Archaeology of the City of Lincoln. Oxford, Oxbow Books
  • [#23] Roffe, D 2006 'The Anglo-Saxon town and the Norman Conquest' in Beckett, J (ed) A Centenary History of Nottingham. Chichester: Phillimore, 24-42
  • [#24] Lewis, C 2006 'The medieval period' in The Archaeology of the East Midlands, 188, 191, 210-12
  • [#25] Richards, J D 2004 'Excavations at the Viking Barrow Cemetery at Heath Wood, Ingleby, Derbyshire, 1998-2000'. Antiquaries Journal 84, 23-116; site archive: Richards, J D 2004. Excavations at the Viking Barrow Cemetery at Heath Wood, Ingleby, Derbyshire, 1998-2000. (http://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/archives/view/ingleby_soa_2003/)
  • [#26] Cameron, K 1975 Place-name Evidence for the Anglo-Saxon Invasion and Scandinavian Settlements. Nottingham: English Place Name Society
  • [#27] Everson, P and Stocker, D 1999 Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture 5: Lincolnshire. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 76-79
  • [#28] Corpora for Derbyshire (Hawkes, J and Sidebottom, P) and Leicestershire & Northamptonshire (Cramp, R and Story, J) in progress. For Leicestershire see Cramp, R 2010 'New directions in the study of Anglo-Saxon sculpture'. Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society 84, 1-25
  • [#29] Lewis 2006, 211
  • [#30] Everson and Stocker 1999, 80-87

Crowle, Lincolnshire: interpreted as `the most purely Scandinavian sculpture that survives in Lincolnshire`, the design on the front of this cross-slab perhaps harks back to the story of Sigurd, showing the encounter of Sigurd and Mimir and Sigurd`s journey to kill the dragon Fafnir. The opposing face displays an intricate interlace pattern (Everson and Stocker 1999, 147-152; reproduced courtesy of Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture)
Crowle, Lincolnshire: interpreted as `the most purely Scandinavian sculpture that survives in Lincolnshire`
Crowle, Lincolnshire: interpreted as `the most purely Scandinavian sculpture that survives in Lincolnshire`


Scroll down to continue looking at the Research Objectives or return to the Research Objective Table

Research Objective 6E#

Undertake further research on urban development in the Anglo-Saxon and Viking periods#

Summary:
There is little evidence for intensive occupation in the early Anglo-Saxon period at the Roman public towns of Lincoln[31] and Leicester[32] or for urban-scale activity at other Roman towns, and a survey of the evidence for nucleated settlement at former Roman towns is long overdue. This should collate excavation, environmental, fieldwalking, metal-detecting, geophysical and other remote sensing data in order to clarify current knowledge and provide a sound basis for future work. Key questions for later periods include the growth from Middle Saxon times of defended urban centres such as Nottingham and commercial foci such as Torksey in Lincolnshire[33]. There is an especially urgent need for the publication of past excavations in Nottingham, as these have major potential for advancing knowledge of the Anglian town and the impact of Danish occupation[34], and an updated review of the evidence for Viking activity at the Five Boroughs of the Danelaw would be most welcome[35]. At Torksey, further archaeological investigations may be proposed to elucidate the growth of the important riverside trading centre and pottery production site that developed from the late eighth century[36].

Agenda topics addressed: 6.1.5; 6.1.6; 6.2.6; 6.5.1-6.5.6; 6.6.1; 6.6.2

Archaeology of the East Midlands: 174-176

SHAPE 2008: Understanding place: assessing regional historic environment components (11111.170); Realising the dividend from past unpublished historic environment investigations (11113.110); Tapping the motherlode: supporting synthesis of key commercial project research (11113.410)

NHPP 2011: Identification of terrestrial assets via non-intrusive survey (3A4); Historic towns and suburbs (4A1)

Other research frameworks:

Northampton Anglo-Saxon palace: excavations of the 8th century timber hall of Phase 1, with St Peter`s Church in the background (Williams, J, Shaw, M and Denham, V 1985 `Middle Saxon Palaces at Northampton`. Northampton Development Corporation Archaeological Monograph 4; reproduced by permission of Northamptonshire Archaeology)
Northampton Anglo-Saxon palace: excavations of the 8th century timber hall of Phase 1, with St Peter`s Church in the background
Medieval Pottery Research Group, 2011: 34-35, especially Research Aims EM12 (Leicester) and 22-23 (Nottingham)
EH National Heritage Science Strategy Report 2 2009: Section 3.3.1 (People and environment)
EH Thematic Research Strategy for the Urban Historic Environment 2010: Priorities UR1 (Synthesis of developer-funded research), UR2 (Urban characterisation) and UR 3 (Survival of early form and fabric in historic towns)

References:


Scroll down to continue looking at the Research Objectives or return to the Research Objective Table

Research Objective 6F#

Identify cultural boundaries in the Early Medieval period#

Summary:
Further archaeological and historical research is proposed to investigate the pattern of regional and sub-regional boundaries in the Early Medieval period. The foremost of these is the boundary of the Danelaw, although the location of this changed over time and can be variously defined depending upon the relative weight that is attached to documentary, place-name or archaeological evidence (e.g. Anglo-Scandinavian sculpture: (Objective 6D)[37]. It is possible that the north-western boundary of the Danelaw mirrored to some extent earlier boundaries focusing on the Trent Valley, and that the distinctive settlement patterns and material culture of this period to the north and west of our region had a deep-rooted history (see Objectives 6D and 6I)[38]. The arrangement had been preceded by smaller kingdoms and petty princedoms that appear to have had their origins in the fifth and sixth centuries, perhaps based in part upon Roman secondary towns[39]. Further study of settlement morphology and material culture, together with place-name studies and investigations wherever possible of potential earthwork boundaries, may permit refinement of this very broad picture. Earthwork boundaries of this period are thought to be rare[40], but there is a strong possibility that some prehistoric earthworks retained their boundary functions for long periods, as may have some roads and rivers. It may also prove possible to identify natural barriers that had served as social or political divides, correlating for example with rivers such as the Trent[41] or in low-lying regions with areas of uninhabitable fen[42].

Agenda topics addressed: 6.1.7; 6.3.1; 6.3.4; 6.4.2

Archaeology of the East Midlands: 163-167, 216

SHAPE 2008: Understanding place: assessing regional historic environment components (11111.170); Revealing ancient cultures (11111.610)

NHPP 2011: Identification of terrestrial assets via non-intrusive survey (3A4)

References:

Grey Ditch, Derbyshire: intermittent bank and ditch, extending for c.1.6km across the valley of the Bradwell Brook, which has been interpreted as most probably the remains of a major Early Medieval boundary work (Guilbert, G and Taylor, C 1992 `Grey Ditch, Bradwell, Derbyshire. 1992 Excavation: Preliminary Report`. Nottingham: Trent & Peak Archaeological Trust; O`Neil, B., 1945. Grey Ditch, Bradwell, Derbyshire. Antiquity 19, 11-19; photograph: Graeme Guilbert)
Grey Ditch, Derbyshire: intermittent bank and ditch, extending for c.1.6km across the valley of the Bradwell Brook, which has been interpreted as most probably the remains of a major Early Medieval boundary work


Scroll down to continue looking at the Research Objectives or return to the Research Objective Table

Research Objective 6G#

Elucidate the development of the parochial system #

Summary:
The origin of this most basic building block of the medieval landscape remains poorly understood[43], yet there is significant potential for further multi-disciplinary enquiry into the landscape, archaeological, sculptural and documentary evidence for these units. Archaeologically, the parish is manifested most obviously by its boundaries, which commonly follow ancient watercourses, roads and linear earthworks, and by its churches[44]. The existence of tenth or eleventh century sculptural fragments at some 15% of Lincolnshire parish church locations has been cited as possible evidence for the early development of the parochial system[45], and additional work on the region's rich resource of sculptural stone is recommended to investigate further this relationship (see also Objective 6D). This should be accompanied by further field investigations of landscape features associated with parish boundaries, which may identify relationships with datable archaeological features such as former Roman roads and prehistoric linear earthworks[46] and highlight opportunities for targeted excavations to investigate stratigraphic relationships between features and retrieve material suitable for dating.

Agenda topics addressed: 6.1.7; 6.3.1; 6.3.4; 6.4.1

Archaeology of the East Midlands: 216

SHAPE 2008: Understanding place: assessing historic areas (11111,170) and regional historic environment components (11111.150); Revealing ancient cultures (11111.610)

Sheep Walks Lodge, Thorpe-on-the-Hill, Lincolnshire: slightly sinuous linear earthwork, possibly forming part of a boundary system predating construction of the Roman Fosse Way. This earthwork is followed by a parish boundary that defines the edge of a tiny sliver of land isolated by the Fosse from the remainder of the parish, and may indicate a land division of considerable antiquity (Vyner, B (ed) in prep. `Archaeology on the A46 Fosse Way: Newark to Lincoln`; photograph: D. Knight)
Sheep Walks Lodge, Thorpe-on-the-Hill, Lincolnshire: slightly sinuous linear earthwork, possibly forming part of a boundary system predating construction of the Roman Fosse Way.
NHPP 2011: Identification of terrestrial assets via non-intrusive survey (3A4)

References:


Scroll down to continue looking at the Research Objectives or return to the Research Objective Table

Research Objective 6H#

Assess the evidence for extractive industries in the late Anglo-Saxon and Viking periods #

Summary:
Industries that were important during the late Roman period appear on current evidence to have been largely or wholly abandoned until growing demands for commodities such as lead for church windows and roofs spurred a resurgence from the later seventh century[47]. Little is known of the extraction and production techniques associated with key industries of the seventh to tenth centuries, although we know from documentary sources that some, such as the Derbyshire lead industry, were probably well established by the early eighth century[48]. An assessment of current evidence is proposed as a first step towards developing a strategy for future fieldwork and targeted excavation. Key research questions include the development of lead mining and the smelting of lead ores in the Derbyshire uplands, the growth of iron-working, building upon work in areas such as Rockingham Forest[49] and around Medbourne[50], and the origin and character of the 'salt-hills' that it has been suggested were accumulating from before the early to mid-tenth century in the Lindsey marshes[51].

Agenda topics addressed: 6.3.3; 6.6.2; 6.6.5; 6.6.6; 6.7.5

Archaeology of the East Midlands: 176-178

SHAPE 2008: Understanding place: assessing regional historic environment components (11111.170); Understanding place: researching regional diversity (11111.310); Understanding artefacts and material culture (11111.510)

NHPP 2011: Identification of terrestrial assets via non-intrusive survey (3A4); Traditional industry, modern industry, mining and associated housing (4B2)

Other research frameworks:
EH National Heritage Science Strategy Report 2 2009: Section 3.4.1 (Understanding materials)
EH Thematic Research Strategy for the Historic Industrial Environment 2010: Priority IND 1 (Origins of industrialisation: understanding early industry)

References:

Northampton: remains of two mortar mixers recorded during excavations of late Anglo-Saxon palace complex (left), with reconstruction drawing (right) (Williams, J 1979 `St Peter`s Street, Northampton` (Northampton Development Corporation Archaeological Monograph __2__). Northampton: Northampton Development Corporation, 123-128; images reproduced by permission of Northamptonshire Archaeology)
Northampton: remains of two mortar mixers recorded during excavations of late Anglo-Saxon palace complex, with reconstruction drawing

Northampton: remains of two mortar mixers recorded during excavations of late Anglo-Saxon palace complex, with reconstruction drawing


Scroll down to continue looking at the Research Objectives or return to the Research Objective Table

Research Objective 6I#

Review the nature and distribution of exotic imported goods in Anglo-Saxon contexts #

Summary:
The range and distribution of exotic material, reviewed some time ago[52], should be reassessed in the light of the many finds that have been recorded by the Portable Antiquities Scheme and during more recent excavations. There is also a need for a review of the cemetery at Sleaford[53], which with its exceptional record of amber and crystal beads and ivory rings is currently without parallel in this region[54], and for the publication of important excavated assemblages such as those retrieved from excavations of the Anglo-Saxon borough of Nottingham[55]. Further clarification of trade routes and exchange mechanisms should assist in the formulation of future excavation and fieldwork strategies, and in particular should enhance our understanding of the role of the Trent as a possible cultural boundary (see also Objective 6F). Current information on the distribution of exotic goods suggests a fundamental contrast between areas south and east of the Trent Valley, where exotic finds are widely distributed, and parts of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire to the north and west, where examples occur rarely[56]. These distribution patterns appear not to correlate with distances from maritime and inland distribution routes or with variations in the extent of archaeological fieldwork. However, bearing in mind other contrasts in the archaeological record either side of the Trent corridor[57], the artefact patterns might have a cultural explanation.

Agenda topics addressed: 6.1.6; 6.2.1; 6.2.3; 6.3.3; 6.3.4; 6.6.1; 6.6.2; 6.6.5

Archaeology of the East Midlands: 179-180

SHAPE 2008: Understanding artefacts and material culture (11111.510)

Other research frameworks:
EH National Heritage Science Strategy Report 2, 2009: Section 3.4.1 (Understanding materials)

References

Distribution of amber and crystal beads in early Anglo-Saxon cemeteries

Distribution of amber and crystal beads in early Anglo-Saxon cemeteries
Distribution of amber and crystal beads in early Anglo-Saxon cemeteries (Huggett 1988, Figs 1 and 4; maps reproduced by courtesy of J. Huggett and the Society for Medieval Archaeology)


Scroll down to continue looking at the Research Objectives or return to the Research Objective Table

Research Objective 6J#

Update and expand the East Midlands Anglo-Saxon Pottery Project #

Summary:
Pottery represents a critical cultural and chronological marker with impacts on many Agenda items, and there is a need to build on existing work to create a standardised fabric series and ceramic typology across the region. In particular, the East Midlands Anglo-Saxon Pottery Project[58], which surveyed pottery fabrics in Lincolnshire, the Trent valley and Derbyshire, should be extended to include Leicestershire and Northamptonshire[59]. The development of standard fabric classifications should enable confirmation of the extent of pottery use in north-west Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, where there is currently limited ceramic evidence, and will permit further investigation of the contrasting archaeological record of lands north and west of the Trent and the remainder of the East Midlands. It would also elucidate the location and extent of pottery production in the upper Trent Valley, Lindsey, Kesteven and Charnwood Forest[60]. In the case of Charnwood, this would permit comparison with the results of current petrographic and electron microprobe analyses of granitoid-tempered prehistoric pottery derived from multiple production sources in this area of Leicestershire (compare Objective 4G)[61][62].

Agenda topics addressed: 6.3.3; 6.3.4; 6.4.2-6.4.5; 6.6.1; 6.6.6

Archaeology of the East Midlands: 178

SHAPE 2008: Understanding artefacts and material culture (11111.510)

Other research frameworks:

Granodiorite inclusion revealed by electron microprobe analysis of Anglo-Saxon cremation urn from Kingston-upon-Soar, Nottinghamshire. The inclusion exhibits a similar microstructure to Mountsorrel granodiorite but not the complete mineral suite (Pl: plagioclase; Q: quartz; © Edward Faber, University of Nottingham)
Granodiorite inclusion revealed by electron microprobe analysis of Anglo-Saxon cremation urn from Kingston-upon-Soar, Nottinghamshire
EH National Heritage Science Strategy Report 2 2009: Section 3.4.1 (Understanding materials)
Medieval Pottery Research Group 2011: Regional Research Aim EM1; National Priority A6

References:


Return to Romano-British Go to the Early-medObjectives Continue to High Medieval

This page (revision-23) was last changed on 22-Jun-2017 13:56 by Tina Roushannafas