Early Medieval
6.1.1: What may be deduced about changes in diet, mortality and other demographic variables from osteological studies of Anglo-Saxon cemeteries, and how might this have varied spatially and over time? 6.1.2: What was the relationship between indigenous communities and Germanic populations, and how may this have varied spatially and over time? 6.1.3: How may studies of sites yielding late Roman metalwork elucidate further the relationship between indigenous and Germanic populations? 6.1.4: How far may studies of dress be advanced by analyses of inhumations, and how may dress accessories reflect social or political groupings? 6.1.5: How can we refine our understanding of the chronology and process of Scandinavian immigration during the ninth and tenth centuries? 6.1.6: What may we deduce from Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Scandinavian sculpture about ethnic and religious affiliations? 6.1.7: Can we identify social/political boundaries (e.g. surviving linear earthworks and natural barriers) and/or estate centres? 6.2.1: Can we shed further light upon burial practices in areas north and west of the Trent? 6.2.2: Can ‘sub-Roman’ or ‘British’ cemeteries and cemeteries dating from the late seventh to ninth centuries be identified? 6.2.3: Can we characterise more precisely Anglo-Saxon and Viking cemeteries and identify temporal or spatial variability in funerary traditions? 6.2.4: How may ‘princely’ barrow burials relate to flat cemeteries and settlements, and what were the preferred landscape settings? 6.2.5: What was the relationship between pagan temples and other contemporary or later sites? 6.2.6: How can we enhance further our understanding of the development of pre-Viking churches, cathedrals and monasteries? 6.3.1: To what extent were Roman roads used and maintained from the fifth century, and may some have acted as social or political boundaries? 6.3.2: Can we identify re-used or newly developed unmetalled routeways (e.g. by the identification of metalled fords or bridges)? 6.3.3: What roles may rivers have played as corridors for the movement of goods and people, and how might these have varied over time? 6.3.4: To what extent may rivers such as the Trent or Witham have served as major political and social boundaries during the Anglo-Saxon period? 6.4.1: What impact may Germanic and Scandinavian immigration have had upon established rural settlement patterns, and how may place-name evidence contribute to studies of settlement evolution? 6.4.2: Can we elucidate the pattern of early medieval settlement north and west of the Trent? 6.4.3: Can spatial and temporal variations in the morphology, functions and status of settlements be defined more precisely? 6.4.4: What factors may underlie the progression from dispersed to nucleated settlement and the growth of settlement hierarchies? 6.4.5: May settlement have retreated from areas of heavier soils in some areas (e.g. Leicestershire and Northamptonshire)? 6.5.1: How may Anglo-Saxon and British communities have utilised late Roman towns and their immediate environs? 6.5.2: Can we identify middle Anglo-Saxon defensive works, including new foundations and refurbishments of Roman walled towns? 6.5.3: What was the impact of the Danish occupation upon urban development and what were the differences between Danish and non-Danish burhs and other urban settlements? 6.5.4: How did Nottingham develop during the Anglo-Saxon and Viking periods? 6.6.1: Can we identify centres of seventh- and eighth-century cross-channel and North Sea trade and/or riverside trading centres? 6.6.2: To what extent may differences in the quantity and quality of imported goods correlate with status variations between sites, and how may analyses of exotic imports in cemeteries assist this study? 6.6.3: Can we elucidate the production and distribution of Early Medieval salt and glass, and in particular establish the date of the Lindsey salt-hills? 6.6.4: How may the adoption of coinage reflect or have stimulated socio-economic changes and how far may its use have varied regionally? 6.6.5: How may we enhance our understanding of the lead industry, the extraction and smelting of iron ore and the environmental impact of these activities? 6.6.6: Can additional fabric analyses clarify further the production and distribution of Anglo-Saxon pottery, particularly that produced in Charnwood Forest? 6.7.1: Is there evidence for new crops and other agricultural changes during the Roman/Saxon transition? 6.7.2: Is there evidence for a hiatus in cultivation in the mid-sixth century and for later arable expansion? 6.7.3: How early may crop rotation and the open-field system have developed, and how may this relate to other agricultural innovations such as mouldboard ploughs, water meadows and land-drainage? 6.7.4: How may animal husbandry practices have developed and how were wild food resources such as fish and wild fowl utilised? 6.7.5: To what extent did woodland regenerate in the post-Roman period and how were woodlands used and managed? Strategic Objective 6A Strategic Objective 6B Strategic Objective 6C Strategic Objective 6D Strategic Objective 6E Strategic Objective 6F Strategic Objective 6G Strategic Objective 6H Strategic Objective 6I Strategic Objective 6J

6.1.1: What may be deduced about changes in diet, mortality and other demographic variables from osteological studies of Anglo-Saxon cemeteries, and how might this have varied spatially and over time?

6.1.2: What was the relationship between indigenous communities and Germanic populations, and how may this have varied spatially and over time?

6.1.3: How may studies of sites yielding late Roman metalwork elucidate further the relationship between indigenous and Germanic populations?

6.1.4: How far may studies of dress be advanced by analyses of inhumations, and how may dress accessories reflect social or political groupings?

6.1.5: How can we refine our understanding of the chronology and process of Scandinavian immigration during the ninth and tenth centuries?

6.1.6: What may we deduce from Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Scandinavian sculpture about ethnic and religious affiliations?

6.1.7: Can we identify social/political boundaries (e.g. surviving linear earthworks and natural barriers) and/or estate centres?

6.2.1: Can we shed further light upon burial practices in areas north and west of the Trent?

6.2.2: Can ‘sub-Roman’ or ‘British’ cemeteries and cemeteries dating from the late seventh to ninth centuries be identified?

6.2.3: Can we characterise more precisely Anglo-Saxon and Viking cemeteries and identify temporal or spatial variability in funerary traditions?

6.2.4: How may ‘princely’ barrow burials relate to flat cemeteries and settlements, and what were the preferred landscape settings?

6.2.5: What was the relationship between pagan temples and other contemporary or later sites?

6.2.6: How can we enhance further our understanding of the development of pre-Viking churches, cathedrals and monasteries?

6.3.1: To what extent were Roman roads used and maintained from the fifth century, and may some have acted as social or political boundaries?

6.3.2: Can we identify re-used or newly developed unmetalled routeways (e.g. by the identification of metalled fords or bridges)?

6.3.3: What roles may rivers have played as corridors for the movement of goods and people, and how might these have varied over time?

6.3.4: To what extent may rivers such as the Trent or Witham have served as major political and social boundaries during the Anglo-Saxon period?

6.4.1: What impact may Germanic and Scandinavian immigration have had upon established rural settlement patterns, and how may place-name evidence contribute to studies of settlement evolution?

6.4.2: Can we elucidate the pattern of early medieval settlement north and west of the Trent?

6.4.3: Can spatial and temporal variations in the morphology, functions and status of settlements be defined more precisely?

6.4.4: What factors may underlie the progression from dispersed to nucleated settlement and the growth of settlement hierarchies?

6.4.5: May settlement have retreated from areas of heavier soils in some areas (e.g. Leicestershire and Northamptonshire)?

6.5.1: How may Anglo-Saxon and British communities have utilised late Roman towns and their immediate environs?

6.5.2: Can we identify middle Anglo-Saxon defensive works, including new foundations and refurbishments of Roman walled towns?

6.5.3: What was the impact of the Danish occupation upon urban development and what were the differences between Danish and non-Danish burhs and other urban settlements?

6.5.4: How did Nottingham develop during the Anglo-Saxon and Viking periods?

6.6.1: Can we identify centres of seventh- and eighth-century cross-channel and North Sea trade and/or riverside trading centres?

6.6.2: To what extent may differences in the quantity and quality of imported goods correlate with status variations between sites, and how may analyses of exotic imports in cemeteries assist this study?

6.6.3: Can we elucidate the production and distribution of Early Medieval salt and glass, and in particular establish the date of the Lindsey salt-hills?

6.6.4: How may the adoption of coinage reflect or have stimulated socio-economic changes and how far may its use have varied regionally?

6.6.5: How may we enhance our understanding of the lead industry, the extraction and smelting of iron ore and the environmental impact of these activities?

6.6.6: Can additional fabric analyses clarify further the production and distribution of Anglo-Saxon pottery, particularly that produced in Charnwood Forest?

6.7.1: Is there evidence for new crops and other agricultural changes during the Roman/Saxon transition?

6.7.2: Is there evidence for a hiatus in cultivation in the mid-sixth century and for later arable expansion?

6.7.3: How early may crop rotation and the open-field system have developed, and how may this relate to other agricultural innovations such as mouldboard ploughs, water meadows and land-drainage?

6.7.4: How may animal husbandry practices have developed and how were wild food resources such as fish and wild fowl utilised?

6.7.5: To what extent did woodland regenerate in the post-Roman period and how were woodlands used and managed?

Strategic Objective 6A

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

Summary:

A photograph of a skeleton, lying exposed in an archaeological excavation. The figure lies on its left hand side, and is surrounded by a number of small artifacts, including a large pot near the head.
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)

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

Strategic Objective 6B

Assess the landscape settings of Anglo-Saxon burial sites 

Summary:

A photo of several people working on a shallow archaeological excavation. Grass has been removed, exposing a stony surface just below the ground.
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)

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

Strategic Objective 6C

Review the evidence for developing settlement hierarchies

Summary:

A photograph of a person sitting on a smooth earthen surface, in which a series of regular holes show the outline of a building.
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)

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

Strategic 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

Strategic Objective 6E

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

Summary:

A photo of a very large archaeological excavation approximately 100 metres long, exposing an intricate and complex structure just underneath the surface. A church can be seen just behind the excavation.
Northampton Anglo-Saxon palace: excavations of the 8th century timber hall of Phase 1, with St Peters Church in the background (Williams, J, Shaw, M and Denham, V 1985Middle Saxon Palaces at Northampton`. Northampton Development Corporation Archaeological Monograph 4; reproduced by permission of Northamptonshire Archaeology)

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; 6.5.1-6.5.4; 6.6.1; 6.6.2

Strategic Objective 6F

Identify cultural boundaries in the Early Medieval period

Summary:

A photo of four people excavating a grassy bank, revealing stony debris.
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)

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

Strategic Objective 6G

Elucidate the development of the parochial system 

Summary:

A photograph of a forest, the floor of which is covered with small plants. A slight raised ridge can be seen, continuing into the distance.
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)

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

Strategic 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

A photograph of an archaeological excavation, showing two circular structures with stone foundations.
A drawing of a large circular tool used for mixing mortar, with the same profile as the structures shown in the photo above. Four men are shown turning a very large lever to rotate a mixing apparatus.
Northampton: remains of two mortar mixers recorded during excavations of late Anglo-Saxon palace complex (above), with reconstruction drawing (Williams, J 1979 St Peters Street, Northampton` (Northampton Development Corporation Archaeological Monograph 2). Northampton: Northampton Development Corporation, 123-128; images reproduced by permission of Northamptonshire Archaeology)

Strategic 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

Strategic Objective 6J

Update and expand the East Midlands Anglo-Saxon Pottery Project 

Summary:

Granodiorite inclusion revealed by electron microprobe analysis of Anglo-Saxon cremation urn from Kingston-upon-Soar, Nottinghamshire
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; 6.6.1; 6.6.6