Anglo-Saxon Kent Electronic Database (ASKED)

Sue Harrington, Stuart Brookes, 2008

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Dr Sue Harrington
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Sue Harrington, Stuart Brookes (2008) Anglo-Saxon Kent Electronic Database (ASKED) [data-set]. York: Archaeology Data Service [distributor]

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A selection of artefact images courtesy of Maidstone Museum

ASKED, the Anglo-Saxon Kent Electronic Database was built collaboratively by Stuart Brookes and Sue Harrington to facilitate our respective PhD researches at UCL Institute of Archaeology, from 1998-2000. A pared down version of its content is presented here, in order for it to act as the pilot database for a much larger corpus of material currently being gathered under the aegis of the 'Beyond the Tribal Hidage Project' - a Leverhulme funded research project undertaken at UCL Institute of Archaeology by director Martin Welch and research assistant Sue Harrington. It is intended that this new dataset will be deposited with the Archaeology Data Service in late 2009, retaining the same format as this version of ASKED.

New sites are identified and excavated nationally on an annual basis, yet to date there exists no period specific and comprehensive listing of these or of their constituent burials. The National Monuments Record, Historic Environment Records and Audrey Meaney's (1964) Gazetteer of Early Anglo-Saxon Burial Sites record the existence of all thus-far identified cemeteries yet omit individual burial information as part of their records. This information can be found, painstakingly, from published cemetery reports, from unpublished 'grey' literature, and archives of the finds themselves, documenting a history of intensive archaeological work for the early Anglo-Saxon period, yet this material is dispersed amongst libraries, museums, archaeological units, universities and individual excavators and researchers. Some advances have been made in this regard through the online publication of the Novum Inventorium Sepulchrale Digital Corpus of Kentish Anglo-Saxon Graves and Grave Goods in the Sonia Hawkes Archive.

The resource at the heart of ASKED is the archaeological evidence for the Anglo-Saxon populations of east and west Kent AD 400-750. The evidence consists of the human skeletal remains, the grave goods and the burial structures from inhumation cemeteries - details of our data entry formats are given in the overview page. In line with the objectives jointly determined at the start of our researches, ASKED brings together various sources in one unified dataset. Given various constraints and the unevenness of the documentation, we were forced to prioritise and select a restricted range of data to present here rather than produce the comprehensive coverage originally envisaged. Therefore only 53 cemetery sites are listed (download cemetery distribution map), although we are aware of many more, together with isolated burials, settlements and find spots. As such, the user will not find, for example, a complete list of every artefact found in Kent, only the coherently published examples. Full coverage is a long distant but achievable possibility. Hopefully others may be spurred on to gather new data and to unify it with this dataset.

The concept underlying the construction of ASKED and subsequent datasets is that of 'census', an enumeration of the population, placing the individual at the heart of the attendant information. The intended long-term outcome of these data gathering activities is to publish on-line burial records of all excavated individuals in early Anglo-Saxon England, located in time and space. We would very much welcome comment on this pilot - please refer to the feedback form to contact the editors direct.

A data paper about this archive is available at: Harrington, S. and Brookes, S 2012. ASKED - the Anglo-Saxon Kent Electronic Database. Journal of Open Archaeology Data 1(1), DOI:

Images courtesy of Maidstone Museum

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