Early Medieval

Key overview statements to address for the Early Medieval period:

A number of overarching comments came out of the workshops discussions for the framework that should be taken into consideration for the early medieval period:

  • How did people think about the transition from Roman to early medieval?
  • The early medieval period starts from the lowest base with most of the material culture lost and a pseudo-chronology. New science techniques are helping us to get at previously ‘invisible’ sites and most of these occur by chance through other period studies. This is a regional distinctiveness.
  • Have we got enough archaeological evidence yet to support PhDs/research?
  • Early kingdom boundaries are important: they extended into Scotland, Northumbria was north of the Mersey and Mercia was south of the Mersey, so we need inter-regional/cross-country research.
  • The PAS evidence is vital. How can we tell early medieval ceramics from Bronze Age and re-use of late Roman? A study is needed and training.
  • One early hoard from outside the area could radically change our view/understanding.
  • A lot of the issues highlighted in the previous research framework are still relevant.

Early Medieval Research Questions

Chronology and Dating

EM01: How can an agreed terminology allow us to better understand types and phases found during the medieval period?

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Re-examine and date deposits of animal bones and environmental material from Castle Street, Carlisle, to resolve at least some of the uncertain date of existing material excavated from urban contexts.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
22/03/2024
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
EARLY MEDIEVAL, Collections research, typology, Chronology
Linked Strategy(s):
Establish an agreed common terminology across the region for the types and phases of activity found in the early medieval period., Analyse any animal bones, and charred, mineralised or waterlogged plant remains, identified from any site of the period as a matter of priority.

EM02: What can modern techniques of analysis tell us about dark earth horizons in post-Roman urban centres?

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A literature review is needed and this should be done through PhDs/theses, specifically looking at the interventions involving dark earth.

 Develop a programme of sampling and dating of suitable samples, such as those from Castle Street, Carlisle, to enlarge the corpus of insects from the region, and our understanding of the conditions in which they thrived.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
22/03/2024
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
DATING TECHNIQUES, EARLY MEDIEVAL, SPECIALIST SAMPLING, Palaeoenvironmental Analysis, Higher Education research
Linked Strategy(s):
Establish methodologies for the excavation of sites where there is potential for early medieval activity, to maximise the chances of its identification and recording, including regular metal detector surveys to aid artefact recovery., Undertake radiocarbon dating as a matter of routine on any site with the potential to produce early medieval activity., Prioritise dating by other methods, particularly dendrochronology, where appropriate., Ensure that any palaeoenvironmental sampling and analysis should not be focused only on the prehistoric levels, but should include, and date, later material., Ensure suitable sampling strategies for dating, geoarchaeological, and palaeoenvironmental analysis of deposits overlying Roman stratigraphy,  such  as  testing  for   soil   formation, agricultural or horticultural mixing, and nutrient enrichment., Analyse any animal bones, and charred, mineralised or waterlogged plant remains, identified from any site of the period as a matter of priority., Develop a programme of sampling and dating to enlarge the corpus of insects from the region, and our understanding of the conditions in which they thrived.

EM03: How and when does a post-Roman cultural identity emerge?

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 Undertake focused research on issues of border and cultural identity across borders ie. Wales and Scotland. How would a post-Roman cultural identity be recognised within the specific NW region?

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
22/03/2024
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
EARLY MEDIEVAL, typology, Chronology, Identity, Culture
Linked Strategy(s):
Attempt to link the fragmentary   artefact sequences to some kind of chronologically robust framework.

EM04: What can a better understanding of urban stratigraphic sequences tell us about early medieval site activities?

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EM05: How can careful analysis of the late Roman/early medieval horizon help to identify early medieval activities on site?

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EM06: How can we identify the character of early medieval rural settlement sites?

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Ensure method statements and research designs for the excavation of rural settlement in the region build in costings for scientific dating, in most cases for a series of dates, particularly targeting short-lifespan material, such as twiggy charcoal, animal bones and charred cereal grains, as well as archaeomagnetic dating of materials heated in situ (hearths, ovens, kilns, etc).

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
22/03/2024
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
DATING TECHNIQUES, EARLY MEDIEVAL
Linked Strategy(s):
Ensure method statements and research designs for the excavation of rural settlement in the region build in costings for absolute dating, in most cases for a series of dates, particularly targeting short-lifespan material, such as twiggy charcoal, animal bones and charred cereal grains, as well as  archaeomagnetic dating of materials heated in situ (hearths, ovens, kilns, etc).

Ending of Roman Britain

EM07: How could a review of old archives and grey literature shed light on the end of Roman Britain?

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Status:
Active
Date of next review:
25/06/2024
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
ROMAN, EARLY MEDIEVAL, Collections research, Synthesis
Linked Strategy(s):
Re-examine old excavation archives from key Roman sites, for instance Carlisle, to look again at evidence for latest activity.

EM08: What investigative techniques work best to identify Early Medieval deposits above more easily discernible Roman features?

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 Undertake detailed surveys at Romano-British sites with good earthwork preservation to establish potential phases prior to excavation. Training is needed on identification of RB and EMED mixed deposits Radiocarbon dating of seemingly Roman remains could reveal they were actually in use after the Roman period eg. charred residue to late Roman wares and other organic remains within Roman assemblages.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
06/01/2021
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
RADIOCARBON DATING, EARLY MEDIEVAL, INVESTIGATIVE TECHNIQUES, Training
Linked Strategy(s):
Ensure that methodologies for the excavation of late Roman deposits are  appropriate  for recognising, characterising  and  dating later material above the  more  easily  identifiable Roman features., Ensure methodologies for any excavations of late Roman or medieval sites are sufficiently robust to allow for  the  possibility  of  early medieval industrial/craft production, including salt.

EM09: What evidence is there for the decline in urban settlements toward the end of the Roman period?

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 A synthesis of excavation evidence is needed and this would make a suitable subject for a PhD.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
06/01/2021
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
ROMAN, EARLY MEDIEVAL, TOWN, Higher Education research, Synthesis
Linked Strategy(s):
Ensure that opportunities are taken to examine the veracity of the commonly-held view of a population  shift  away   from   towns   into defended places  at  the  end  of the Roman period.

EM10: How can we clarify cultural indicators from the ephemeral remains of the early medieval period? (4.2:4.13)

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EM11: What can early medieval sites tell us about social disparity at the end of Roman Britain?

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Target place names that suggest political centres or meeting places. Learn more from place name studies, working more closely with English place name societies, to identify site specific and wider EM settlements and seek ways to map place name evidence on county HERs.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
25/06/2024
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
ROMAN, EARLY MEDIEVAL, society, Place name study
Linked Strategy(s):
Target sites that may contribute to an understanding of social disparity in the early medieval period.

EM12: What evidence is there of Romano-British culture surviving into the Medieval Period?

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Status:
Active
Date of next review:
25/06/2024
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
ROMAN, EARLY MEDIEVAL, ASSEMBLAGE, Culture
Linked Strategy(s):
Develop methodologies to identify British cultural remains in the post-Roman milieu.

EM13: How can we identify the emergence of social elites in the early medieval period?

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See supporting statements for Q10 to 12 above. Target research on hill forts and comparative studies across borders.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
25/06/2024
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
HILLFORT, EARLY MEDIEVAL, society

Settlement and Land use

EM14: How can we identify changes in landscape use related to climate change?

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EM15: How can archaeological methods be used to recognise domestic, farming and food provision sites?

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Can we distinguish everyday domestic and local trade practices and do they characterise the NW region or do they echo patterns across early medieval England.
Status:
Active
Date of next review:
06/01/2021
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
EARLY MEDIEVAL, Trade, Domesticity

EM16: How can place names inform our understanding of the landscape context of known sites?

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Status:
Active
Date of next review:
06/01/2021
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
EARLY MEDIEVAL, Landscape, Place name study
Linked Strategy(s):
Link place-name studies with wider landscape research in an attempt to place the known sites into some sort of landscape context.

EM17: What evidence is there for landscape change in the early medieval period?

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EM19: How can archaeological investigations be targeted to inform our understanding of places of authority and local government?

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Target centres of medieval culture, including churches with early sculpture and medieval churches on Romano-British sites, hill forts and assembly points.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
19/08/2024
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
DATING TECHNIQUES, EARLY MEDIEVAL, CHURCH
Linked Strategy(s):
Examine, wherever possible, presumed centres of early medieval activity, particularly the nature of surviving archaeological deposits, coupled with a detailed programme of dating. These might include settlements with churches producing early sculpture, or medieval estate centres re-occupying Roman sites.

EM20: How can we identify hotspots of Early Medieval activity and individual sites with archaeological potential?

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 The successful Cheshire metal detector model could be applied to the rest of the region as it is particularly relevant for the early medieval period.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
06/01/2021
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
EARLY MEDIEVAL, Metal Detecting Survey, Synthesis
Linked Strategy(s):
Monitor the distribution pattern of material reported to the Portable Antiquities Scheme throughout the region, to highlight ‘hot spots’ of early medieval activity, and individual sites with archaeological potential., Undertake systematic metal detector surveys in such ‘hot spots’ to attempt to define and characterise early medieval activity.

Ritual, Religion and Ceremony

EM21: What can archaeological investigation tell us about the origins and character of early Christian sites?

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Links to/from medieval buildings need to be considered with respect to Christian/religious development. Include circular graveyards.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
06/01/2021
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
EARLY MEDIEVAL, CEMETERY, PLACE OF WORSHIP, Place name study
Linked Strategy(s):
Target appropriate sites with Eccles place-names with systematic survey of surrounding settlement.

EM22: What can church sites associated with Romano-British sites tell us about early medieval sculpture and can these provide further evidence for early Christianity?

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 CSIR work for area underway, corpus for Anglo-Saxon sculpture on-line. How do we maintain/update publications/websites?

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
06/01/2021
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
ROMAN, EARLY MEDIEVAL, CHURCH, SCULPTURE
Linked Strategy(s):
Target churches on headlands  for  study as possible early sites, particularly when they are associated with Roman material or early medieval stone sculpture., Prioritise the study of long segmental churches in both east Cumbria and adjacent parts of Yorkshire.

EM23: What can funerary evidence tell us about the transitions between new and previous belief systems?

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Review existing burial assemblages to highlight key artefacts which may indicate belief systems. Examine distribution patterns of excavated late Roman and early medieval grave yards. This would make a potential PhD research project.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
06/01/2021
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
DEATH BURIAL OR FUNERARY OBJECT, EARLY MEDIEVAL, ASSEMBLAGE, FUNERARY SITE, Higher Education research

EM24: What can the difference between worked stone materials of sub regional level tell us about early Medieval religion and burial?

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Review Anglo Saxon sculpture in the North West publications. NEW STRATEGY Systematic scanning of sculpture and worked stone to help to facilitate new research. NEW STRATEGY

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
06/01/2021
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
EARLY MEDIEVAL, BURIAL, SCULPTURE, Laser Scanning Survey, Religion, Synthesis
Linked Strategy(s):
Analyse differences between stone sculpture at a sub-regional level.

EM25: How can we find out more about the nature of early medieval burials?

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EM26: How can we identify potential early Medieval burial sites?

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Review existing burial assemblages to highlight key artefacts which may indicate burial practices. This has been shown to work at Cumwhitton but the artifacts may also indicate sites of more general activity.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
06/01/2021
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
DEATH BURIAL OR FUNERARY OBJECT, EARLY MEDIEVAL, BURIAL, METAL DETECTING USE, Grave goods
Linked Strategy(s):
The presence of stray finds recovered by metal detectorists, which may indicate that burials of this period are being damaged by agricultural practice, need to be highlighted and should be prioritised for investigation.

Technology and Production

EM27: How could a re-evaluation of museum collections help to identify early Medieval ceramics and other materials?

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EM28: How can we improve the identification of early medieval pottery on excavation sites?

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Training issue: need workshops for identification of EMED pottery for early career archaeologist, researches and local society groups. This would make a potential PhD research project.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
06/01/2021
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
EARLY MEDIEVAL, POTTERY, Higher Education research, Training
Linked Strategy(s):
Raise awareness in those responsible for the excavation of sites that ceramics initially classed as prehistoric might represent examples of  a regional tradition of early medieval hand-made pottery.

EM29: How could an intra-regional study reveal the quantity and continued use of Romano-British materials during the early medieval?

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This would make a potential PhD research project. Ensure all Romano-British assemblages are scrutinised for potential early medieval materials, including intra-regional contexts, and data along with Scotland and Cornwall.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
06/01/2021
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
ROMAN, EARLY MEDIEVAL, ASSEMBLAGE, Collections research, Higher Education research
Linked Strategy(s):
Recognise the continued use of ‘Roman’ artefacts into the 5th century as a topic worthy of further research, and ensure all late  Roman assemblages are scrutinised for such.

EM30: How can we further our understanding of the exploitation of resources for the extraction of materials during the early Medieval period?

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Examine how and if particular post-Roman regional industries generate a unique NW culture and vibrant economic and trade systems.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
06/01/2021
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
EARLY MEDIEVAL, METAL, publication, Synthesis
Linked Strategy(s):
Establish a regular period-based  review  or publication scheme for artefacts recorded by the PAS, including  metallurgical  studies, as appropriate., Undertake   metallurgical   studies   of  early medieval metalwork as a matter of routine.

Trade, Exchange and Interaction

EM31: What can a detailed landscape survey tell us about the early Medieval settlements on coastal promontories and water courses?

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EM32: How can we identify early medieval sites in a coastal environment?

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Can a re-evaluation of PAS and museum archives identify potential early Medieval sites in a coastal environment?

Date of next review:
06/01/2021
Status:
Active
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
EARLY MEDIEVAL, ASSEMBLAGE, SITE, COIN, Coastal And Intertidal, River, Collections research
Linked Strategy(s):
Treat any early medieval coin and artefact finds, not just hoards, in coastal and river-edge areas as potential sites, and monitor such areas closely.

EM33: What evidence is there for the importation of raw materials from outside the region?

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A better understanding of this would be provided through analysis of PAS data, examining museum archives, and scientific analysis. This would make a potential PhD research project.

Date of next review:
06/01/2021
Status:
Active
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
EARLY MEDIEVAL, Collections research, Higher Education research, Trade

Defence, Warfare and Military Activity

EM34: What can archaeological investigations tell us about the character of early Medieval re-use of former defended sites, such as Roman Forts and Hill Forts?

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 Great care needs to taken when preparing project designs on high medieval castles as there is a possibility of early medieval or post-Conquest military and/or ecclesiastical activity.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
06/01/2021
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
CASTLE, HILLFORT, EARLY MEDIEVAL, FORT
Linked Strategy(s):
Ensure excavation methodologies are in place to recognise  and  characterise  post-Roman activity in Roman forts., Ensure all  opportunities  are taken  to  date material from both the defences and interiors of hillforts, and from potential burh sites in Cheshire.