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The chronological framework that is employed here follows broadly the period divisions of the 2006 Regional overview[1]. Minor revisions to this scheme have been made to take account of more recent prehistoric research, notably the chronology of early hominin colonisation[2] and reassessment of the Bronze Age-Iron Age transition[3]. For simplicity, the 'Anglo-Saxon' period of the earlier study[4] has been subsumed into an 'Early Medieval' period embracing the imposition of the Danelaw from AD 793-1042 and the re-establishment of the Anglo-Saxon monarchy prior to the Norman Conquest of AD 1066. To permit closer correlation with commonly used and widely understood historical chronologies, we have linked the inception of the Post-Medieval period to the establishment by Henry VII of the Tudor dynasty after the defeat of Richard III at Bosworth Field in 1485 - one of several pivotal battles which have left enduring traces in the archaeological record of the East Midlands[5], and one which has attracted significant renewed interest following the recent discovery at Leicester of the remains of the last Plantagenet monarch.[6] Details of the nine periods that form the framework of this study are provided in the table below.

Period name Date range
kya: thousand years ago (period beyond the limits of radiocarbon calibration)[7]
cal BC: calibrated years BC (for periods where radiocarbon dates may be calibrated to an acceptable level of accuracy)[8]
Palaeolithic (Old Stone Age) Archaeological Period 1 (Cromerian and Early Intra-Anglian): c.950/850-c.450 kya (MIS25-MIS12) Pleistocene hunter-gatherer communities: intermittent occupation, correlating with periods of warmer climate. Periods 1 to 5 follow the scheme of archaeological periods outlined by McNabb in the East Midlands Archaeological Resource Assessment and Research Agenda[9] and are dated broadly by correlations with Marine Isotope Stages (MIS)[10]. In Britain, the earliest cultural remains of Period 1 may be correlated currently with either Marine Isotope Stage 25 (970-936 kya) or 21 (866-814 kya)[11]. Period 1 activity is known in the East Midlands, but cannot yet be closely dated within the broad time bracket assigned to this period.
Archaeological Period 2 (Pre-Levallois Lower Palaeolithic): c.450-c.250 kya (MIS12-Early MIS8)
Archaeological Period 3 (Levallois Lower Palaeolithic): c.250-c.150 kya (Late MIS8-Early MIS6)
Archaeological Period 4 (Mousterian): c.60-c.40 kya (MIS3)
Archaeological Period 5a (Early Upper Palaeolithic): c.40-c.27kya (Late MIS3-Early MIS2)
Archaeological Period 5b (Late Upper Palaeolithic): c.13,000-c.9500 cal BC (Late MIS 2)
Mesolithic (Middle Stone Age) c.9500 - c.4000 cal BC Post-glacial (Early Holocene) hunter-gatherer communities, characterised archaeologically by distinctive lithic artefact kits. Typological developments in lithic tool technology permit a distinction between an Earlier and Later Mesolithic, divided at c.8000 cal BC[12].
Neolithic (New Stone Age) and Early to Middle Bronze Age Neolithic: c.4000 - c.2200 cal BC Further changes in lithic artefact technology, coinciding with a gradual shift from a hunter-gatherer to an agricultural subsistence base and other key changes such as the development of pottery and the development of copper metallurgy (the latter from c.2400-c.2200 cal BC).
Early Bronze Age: c.2200-c.1500 cal BC Expansion of bronze-working technology; technological and typological developments evident in bronze artefact assemblages distinguish the Early from the Middle Bronze Age.
Middle Bronze Age: c.1500-c.1150 cal BC
Late Bronze Age and Iron Age Late Bronze Age: c.1150-c.800 cal BC[13] Further developments of bronze-working technology and artefact typology.
Iron Age: c.800 cal BC-AD 43 Replacement of bronze by iron as the main raw material for tools and weapons (developing from Late Bronze Age roots).
Romano-British AD 43-c.AD 410 From the Claudian conquest to the collapse of Roman administration and the withdrawal of Roman political and financial support in the early fifth century. The conventional date of c. AD 410 is employed here, but the chronology of the ending of Roman Britain remains a subject of continuing debate[14].
Early Medieval c.AD 410-1066 From the withdrawal of Rome to the defeat of King Harold by William I. This embraces a 'sub-Roman' period of uncertain duration, preceding the settlement from the fifth century of Germanic migrants, Viking raids culminating in the establishment of the Danelaw (793-1042) across much of the East Midlands and re-establishment of the Anglo-Saxon monarchy following the defeat of Cnut (1042).
High Medieval 1066-1485 From the Norman Conquest to the Battle of Bosworth. This crucial East Midlands battle saw the defeat of Richard III by Henry Tudor (crowned Henry VII) and the beginning of the Tudor dynasty.
Post-Medieval 1485-1750 From the Battle of Bosworth to the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution.
Modern 1750 to present The Industrial Revolution, driven by developments from the mid-eighteenth century along the Derwent Valley and elsewhere, heralds the beginning of the Modern period.

  • [#1] Cooper, N and Clay, P 2006 'The national and regional context of the research framework' in The Archaeology of the East Midlands, 3
  • [#2] Parfitt, S A et al 2010 'Early Pleistocene human occupation at the edge of the boreal zone in northwest Europe'. Nature 466, 229-33; see also Parfitt, S, Ashton, N and Lewis, S 2010 'Happisburgh'. British Archaeology 114, 15-23
  • [#3] Needham, S 2007 '800 BC, The Great Divide', in Haselgrove, C and Pope, R (eds) The Earlier Iron Age in Britain and the Near Continent, Oxford: Oxbow Books, 64
  • [#4] Vince, A G 2006 'The Anglo-Saxon period' in The Archaeology of the East Midlands, 161-84
  • [#5] See Research Objective 7H
  • [#6] Kennedy, M and Foxall, L (eds) 2015 The Bones of a King. Wiley-Blackwell
  • [#7] As employed by McNabb, J 2006 'The Palaeolithic' in The Archaeology of the East Midlands, 13
  • [#8] For radiocarbon dating, see eg Buteux, S, Chambers, J and Silva, B (eds) 2009 Digging Up the Ice Age. Oxford: Archaeopress, 107-8; also Renfrew, C and Bahn, P 2004 Archaeology: Theories, Methods and Practice. London: Thames and Hudson, 141-149
  • [#9] McNabb, J 2006, 13-15.
  • [#10] McNabb, J 2006, 12-17; see also Buteux, S (ed) 2009, 9-11, Fig 11
  • [#11]Parfitt, S A et al 2010
  • [#12] Myers, A M 2006 'The Mesolithic' in The Archaeology of the East Midlands, 53
  • [#13] See Needham, S 2007 for current dating of Late Bronze Age-Iron Age transition
  • [#14] See e.g. Moorhead, S 2010 '410-2010: Rome and Britain'. British Archaeology 111, 17-21

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  This page (revision-77) was last changed on 22-Dec-2017 10:14 by David Knight