Trade, Exchange and Interaction

A significant advance in the last ten years has been the publication of the material from Meols, on the Wirral (Griffiths et al 2007). This reinforces the view that this long-lived site, with activity stretching from the Bronze Age through to the medieval period, acted as a beach market. It is particularly rich in early medieval metalwork and coins, implying regular and productive long-distance contacts in England and around the Irish Sea. This is perhaps reinforced by the finding of a Byzantine coin of Justinian, minted in Antioch in AD 547-8, also in the Wirral (PAS 2017a, LVPL-874C64). There is also growing evidence for quite large numbers of early medieval coins, particularly stycas, on Roman sites (for instance, west of Carlisle Cathedral; McCarthy 2014), which may point to areas of trading activity, perhaps linked to religious centres.

4.17 Aerial photograph Meols – from 2006 assessment or from Rob?

The material from Cumwhitton also suggested that the people buried there had contacts, either direct or indirect, with the west coast of Scotland, the Isle of Man and Ireland, as well as other parts of England, particularly Yorkshire and East Anglia, Scandinavia and the Carolingian empire (Paterson et al 2014). For instance, one of the strap ends, which bears great similarity to another from Aspatria, is similar to material identified by the Portable Antiquities Scheme from other parts of northern Cumbria, but also from Yorkshire. Indeed, patterns identified through material registered by the Scheme can start to identify possible trading networks in the region.

The most obvious evidence, at least perhaps of forcible exchange, and certainly reflecting political insecurity, is of hoards. Several more have been found in the last ten years, to add to the already substantial corpus from the region, of which the most spectacular is the Cuerdale Hoard. This has also been the subject of renewed research (Graham-Campbell 2011), and the Huxley Hoard, found in 2004 in Cheshire, has been published (Graham-Campbell and Philpott 2011). The new hoards are concentrated in the north of the region, with finds of hack silver and ingots similar to those in the Cuerdale Hoard being identified by metal detectorists near Silverdale in north Lancashire and close to the Sellafield Nuclear Power Station in Cumbria (PAS 2017b, LANCUM-65C1B4; PAS 2107c, LANCUM-FA14C8). Both would appear to date to the earlier tenth century. A somewhat later hoard, containing coins from c 950 onwards, was found on the Furness Peninsula, also by a metal detectorist (PAS 2017d, LANCUM-80A304).

4.18 A hoard – Silverdale or Furness? – from PAS )B

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