Middle to Late Anglo-Saxon Research Agenda

MSax-Lsax 01: How can we improve the recovery of Middle and Late Anglo-Saxon settlement evidence?

More information on this question
More information:
We need more targeted approaches to the identification and recording of Middle and Late Anglo-Saxon evidence, which is often obscured by later settlements and rarely given the priority it deserves, particularly within the development management process. Within settlements, test-pitting produces reasonable results for later periods, but significant new data for this period will only be produced via evaluation and excavation. Results need to be published in a timely manner.
Categories:
EARLY MEDIEVAL

MSax-Lsax 02: How can we better characterise Middle and Late Anglo-Saxon settlement types and forms?

More information on this question
More information:
We would benefit from a detailed study of the changes in settlement types and forms during the Middle and Late Anglo-Saxon periods. This would enable the identification of the much-needed settlement hierarchy. Such studies need to take a sub-regional approach, and need to consider environmentally distinct areas and known political entities. Characterisation of settlement forms and functions is still desirable and necessary, to be informed by fieldwork including fieldwalking, metal-detecting, geophysical survey and trial trenching. These should include settlement diversity models based on size, status and function.
Categories:
EARLY MEDIEVAL

MSax-Lsax 03: How might development control more effectively enhance our understanding of the Middle and Late Anglo-Saxon periods?

More information on this question
More information:
Villages offer opportunities for individual ‘garden’ developments or small sites in topographically significant locations, such as proximity of church. It is crucial to continue small developer-funded investigations in historic settlement cores, e.g. extensions and single dwellings, however, the scale of the intervention needs to be proportionate and development control staff need to be able to justify such interventions on the basis of existing evidence. Geophysics and metal-detecting might be used in current settlements to target small interventions. We need to capitalise on any large-scale interventions within settlement cores. In rural contexts, good data often come from large infrastructure projects, such as has been the case with the A14 and the Anglia One windfarm onshore cable route.
Categories:
EARLY MEDIEVAL

MSax-Lsax 04: How do we realise the potential of single-phase Middle Anglo-Saxon settlements?

More information on this question
More information:
There are very few Middle Anglo-Saxon settlement sites which do not continue into the Late Anglo-Saxon period, so we therefore need to make the most of the opportunities which any such solely Middle Anglo-Saxon sites without successive settlement might afford. However, there is a possibility that any solely Middle Anglo-Saxon settlements excavated may be failed settlements and therefore not representative of those other settlements which continued to be into the Late Anglo-Saxon period.
Categories:
EARLY MEDIEVAL

MSax-Lsax 05: How can we better interpret Middle and Late Anglo-Saxon artefact scatters?

More information on this question
More information:
In undeveloped areas, methodologies need to be developed to allow us to interpret what Middle and Late Anglo-Saxon surface scatters represent. Analysis of the distribution of artefacts recorded by the PAS or recovered by fieldwork would help in establishing relative settlement distribution, densities and cultural links.
Categories:
EARLY MEDIEVAL

MSax-Lsax 06: To what extent can we identify sub-regional variations in Middle and Late Anglo-Saxon period?

More information on this question
More information:
It is clear that there are many sub-regional differences evident during the Anglo-Saxon period, which are in part reflected in the historical sources such as the Tribal Hidage. For example, there is considerable local variation in settlement types and burial practices, and the west of the region doesn’t have much Ipswich ware. The benefits of ‘big data’ projects have been demonstrated, but their conclusions are necessarily very high level. More detailed regional and sub-regional studies have provided finer-grained results, and more of these should be undertaken. Projects need to use GIS to manage the multiple large datasets required. Links with north-west Europe need to be further examined, and whether ethnicity and regional contacts can be traced through the finds.
Categories:
EARLY MEDIEVAL

MSax-Lsax 07: To what extent was their continuity or discontinuity between Early and Middle Anglo-Saxon settlements?

More information on this question
More information:
The apparent dislocation between Early and Middle Anglo-Saxon settlements needs to be quantified and tested. It has long been assumed that there was a dislocation of settlement between the dispersed and often transitory settlements of the Early Anglo-Saxon period and the more settled, nucleated and increasingly regularly laid out settlements of the Middle and Late Anglo-Saxon periods. However, although settlements featuring both Early and Middle Anglo-Saxon evidence remain a rarity, the last decade has seen some consideration of the potential for the stability of Early to Middle Anglo-Saxon rural settlements.
Categories:
EARLY MEDIEVAL

MSax-Lsax 08: How can we better understand the extent of Middle and Late Anglo-Saxon landscape reorganisation?

More information on this question
More information:
The extent and nature of Middle and Late Anglo-Saxon landscape reorganisation, village nucleation and the origin of dispersed settlements, the origin of field systems, and land reclamation all need further exploration. Reference should be made to the way that Anglo-Saxon settlements and organisation of the landscape influenced the medieval landscape.
Categories:
EARLY MEDIEVAL

MSax-Lsax 09: How can archaeologists make better use of historical sources for these periods?

More information on this question
More information:
There is a need to recognise the relevance of other non-archaeological evidence in multidisciplinary approach to these periods. In particular, historical sources can be used to better understand the political context of the period, place-name studies can illuminate our understanding of the structure of the landscape, and the evidence offered by Domesday Book provides a valuable and detailed view of the Late Anglo-Saxon landscape.
Categories:
EARLY MEDIEVAL

MSax-Lsax 10: How did towns develop during the Middle and Late Anglo-Saxon periods?

More information on this question
More information:
Further research is required in order to better understand when and how the major east Anglian towns – Norwich, Ipswich, Cambridge, Thetford, Ely, etc. – were founded. Crucial to this is the publication of legacy sites from Ipswich, Norwich and other urban centres, many of which were excavated many decades ago. The development and role of towns in the Anglo-Saxon landscape needs to be considered. In particular, planned and organic changes in their internal layouts and housing densities, their role as centres of supply and demand all need further study. The relationship between urban sites and their rural hinterlands needs to be explored. The development and significance of wics is still not fully understood, and the development of urbanism outside of wics needs further study. This should including urban development around Middle Anglo-Saxon minster sites, Alfredian/Danish burhs and Late Anglo-Saxon monastic sites.
Categories:
EARLY MEDIEVAL

MSax-Lsax 11: How do we characterise the relationship between churches and settlements?

More information on this question
More information:
Further work is required on the relationships between churches and settlement sites throughout the Anglo-Saxon period. In particular, whether the foundation of churches acted as a focal point for nucleated settlement, or vice versa.
Categories:
EARLY MEDIEVAL

MSax-Lsax 12: How can we improve our understanding of Middle and Late Anglo-Saxon communication networks?

More information on this question
More information:
Further work is required in order to improve our understanding of the development of communication routes, transport and trading networks during the Middle and Late Anglo-Saxon periods. The influence of Roman (and potentially earlier) roads and networks on Anglo-Saxon settlement patterns is not yet fully understood. Communications can be studied without the need for intervention, for example using Lidar to look at long-distance routeways and river crossings, etc.
Categories:
EARLY MEDIEVAL

MSax-Lsax 13: How can we improve our understanding of Middle and Late Anglo-Saxon buildings?

More information on this question
More information:
There is a need for more in-depth recording and comparative analysis of different building types from excavated Middle and Late Anglo-Saxon settlements in order that we may better understand their function, form and chronology.
Categories:
EARLY MEDIEVAL

MSax-Lsax 14: How can we identify the Scandinavian presence in East Anglia?

More information on this question
More information:
The discrepancy between the archaeological evidence for the Danish occupation of East Anglia and the description of destruction provided by the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle requires further study. Finds data collected by the PAS has a lot to contribute here. Particular issues to be addressed include the extent to which the Danelaw formed a real and meaningful boundary, and attempting to quantify the duration and impact of Danish occupation. The nature of the impact of the Danish incursions on religious sites (and other classes of sites) needs to be explored more fully. It is also possible that the botanical record could reveal changes in farming practices, while human and animal remains may allow for the identification of discrete populations.
Categories:
EARLY MEDIEVAL

MSax-Lsax 15: How did the climate change during the Middle and Late Anglo-Saxon periods?

More information on this question
More information:
Greater work is needed on the climate changes which occurred during the Middle and Late Anglo-Saxon periods, such as the ‘Little Ice Age’, and the impact which climate change had on physical geography, e.g. coastlines and estuaries, and on the Anglo-Saxon economy, e.g. agricultural production. We should also look for evidence of resilience on the part of the population in order to identify if and how people and the economy coped with factors such as environmental change and plague.
Categories:
EARLY MEDIEVAL

MSax-Lsax 16: How might we identify the adoption of Christianity?

More information on this question
More information:
The adoption of Christianity at a popular level is still poorly understood and further study is needed to understand how this manifests itself within the archaeological record. There is a need to compare the various conversion episodes in the region with other conversions within the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms and on the Continent. More work needs to be done to identify and characterise the diversity of funerary practices employed during the Conversion period.
Categories:
EARLY MEDIEVAL

MSax-Lsax 17: How can we better understand the development of monasteries and minsters?

More information on this question
More information:
The role, development and landscape impact of monasteries and minsters needs further study. They are especially important for understanding the conversion to Christianity and the development of settlements, as well as for monastic archaeology. Multi-disciplinary studies incorporating archaeological, historical and landscape research are necessary.
Categories:
EARLY MEDIEVAL

MSax-Lsax 18: How can we improve our understanding of the relationship between Roman sites and early churches?

More information on this question
More information:
The relationship between early Christian sites and Roman sites needs to be explored further, especially given the archaeological potential of the latter. Similar questions should be asked of prehistoric sites, where the causal link, i.e. the deliberate association with the Roman past, is less obvious.
Categories:
EARLY MEDIEVAL

MSax-Lsax 19: How can we best characterise Middle Anglo-Saxon churches?

More information on this question
More information:
Very few buildings which can be confidently identified as Middle and/or Late Anglo-Saxon churches have been excavated, and even these have attracted some discussion about their identification. Most churches appear to have been constructed from timber using the same techniques and designs as domestic structures. It may be possible to define a set of criteria for the identification which would allow churches to be differentiated from halls. It may be possible to discern liturgical arrangements within church buildings and small investigations inside or adjacent to churches should be encouraged in order to find evidence for these earlier structures.
Categories:
EARLY MEDIEVAL

MSax-Lsax 20: How can we maximise the potential of Middle and Late Anglo-Saxon burials and cemeteries?

More information on this question
More information:
Like settlements, cemeteries of this period are not usually encountered during commercial fieldwork, primarily because of the presence of later churchyards and settlements. Middle Anglo-Saxon cemeteries are rare discoveries, but where they are located they need to be well excavated and recorded, with a full range of scientific techniques applied. The refinement of radiocarbon dating through Bayesian modelling, and the application of oxygen isotope analysis to human bone in order to date and plot population movement should be more widely explored. There would also be a benefit to radiocarbon dating isolated burials, as it is very hard to know what they are without any dating evidence and there is a strong chance that many of these may belong to this period. The full impact and implications of the results of the Anglo-Saxon Graves and Grave Goods Project, with furnished burial ending c. AD 680, need to be contemplated and reconciled with existing interpretations.
Categories:
EARLY MEDIEVAL

MSax-Lsax 21: How can we better understand the region’s Late Anglo-Saxon monastic houses?

More information on this question
More information:
The archaeological potential of many of the region’s Late Anglo-Saxon monastic houses remains very high, and further documentary research and fieldwork would be beneficial. This should examine the wider landscape holdings of the houses and examine their role in the Late Anglo-Saxon landscape. It may also be possible to identify material traces of the Benedictine reforms.
Categories:
EARLY MEDIEVAL

MSax-Lsax 22: When and how did Anglo-Saxon fieldscapes develop?

More information on this question
More information:
The increased interest in environmental determinism and the importance of agricultural production need to be capitalised upon and explored more fully. The development of Anglo-Saxon fieldscapes needs further investigation. How far can the size and shape of fields be related to the agricultural regimes identified? To what extent are Roman field systems reused? What is the evidence for open field systems in the region in the Anglo-Saxon period?
Categories:
EARLY MEDIEVAL

MSax-Lsax 23: How can faunal remains and environmental samples be used more effectively?

More information on this question
More information:
Within excavated sites, priority should be given to the detailed examination of good animal bone, charred cereal deposits and palaeoenvironmental data, which has the potential to inform emerging models of Anglo-Saxon agricultural practices. Animal bone assemblages, in particular, have the potential to allow us to discern between different types of sites.
Categories:
EARLY MEDIEVAL

MSax-Lsax 24: How can we increase our understanding of Middle and Late Anglo-Saxon water management?

More information on this question
More information:
The role of water management and land reclamation are important themes. This includes the Fenlands, the reclamation of coastal marshes, the creation of water meadows and meadow pasture in the river valleys and the role of rivers and canals in the economic development of the landscape. The exploitation of the shoreline also requires greater study.
Categories:
EARLY MEDIEVAL

MSax-Lsax 25: How can we reconstruct relationships between urban centres and their hinterlands?

More information on this question
More information:
Production and processing of food for urban markets is a key element of understanding the relationship between towns and their rural hinterlands. The interchange between rural food supplies and urban industrial and craft products was essential for both town and village or hamlet. The East of England, historically rural with few large towns, is well-placed to study this problem. Environmental archaeology in urban areas should be targeted on relationships with sites in the rural hinterland. There are very few assemblages of bones and charred crop from rural farm sites. This is particularly the case for the Middle Anglo-Saxon to post-medieval periods. Without more information on rural sites involved in production and processing our picture of urban economies will remain severely biased.
Categories:
EARLY MEDIEVAL

MSax-Lsax 26: How can we increase our understanding of Middle and Late Anglo-Saxon craft production?

More information on this question
More information:
There is a need for a much larger rural assemblage of artefacts to study distribution of product types. The Anglo-Saxon pottery industry is still not properly understood, and this may be helped by more thin-section and residue analyses. A regional assessment of evidence for local production centres would be useful, following models for Cambridgeshire and, more specifically, Ipswich Ware. Rural production centres for pottery should be targeted for excavation. Similarly, more attention should be paid to glass production, metalworking, the charcoal industry and woodland management. The details of material culture need to be studied, including careful examination of technological innovation, the adoption of new materials and practices, the production of specialised products and the pattern of artistic influence.
Categories:
EARLY MEDIEVAL

MSax-Lsax 27: How can we increase our understanding of Middle and Late Anglo-Saxon coinage?

More information on this question
More information:
Datasets held by the PAS, the Corpus of Early Medieval Coin Finds and HERs should be better integrated to enable detailed assessment. There should be an emphasis on understanding the relationship between coinage and the rest of the economy, in particular the distribution of mints in this period. Die studies of coins would be instructive and more work needs to be done looking at distribution of coinage.
Categories:
EARLY MEDIEVAL