This subject area has seen research advances predominantly through PAS data, which is frequently used for Masters and Doctoral research studying national and regional trends of specific find types (see Table 3).
Although this work does not often find its way back to PAS or HERs it can be found occasionally through the British Library e-theses on line service “EThOS”. Evidence for trade comes from a variety of investigations which often did not set out to specifically to examine this theme. Analysis of recently discovered pottery assemblages is revealing the origins of some pottery types and offering insights into potential trading networks across the region and beyond. Palaeoenvironmental evidence, although limited, is suggesting trade links beyond the British Isles and a recent discovery of a medieval slipway along the Cumbrian coast suggests there may be more archaeological evidence for travel by sea around the region.
Research proposals: Applications to PAS for data research projects (Bold indicates particular relevance to the North West)
|Coin loss in the North West and possibly also North East; comparing PAS data to excavated data||Undergraduate Newcastle University|
|Continuity of the Roman road network into the Middle Ages||Masters|
|Medieval coinage distribution in Cumberland||Masters|
University of York
|Medieval pilgrimage in Britain||Masters|
University of Birmingham
|English Medieval seals, with particular reference to female representations and use||Masters|
|Polygonise the township and parish boundaries of Wirral||Masters|
|Pilgrimage in the Medieval British landscape||Masters|
|Personal material culture from the 13th-14th century: investigation into patterns of loss, meanings of wealth and expressions of identity in medieval rural culture||PhD |
|Fashion and Identity in England, Scotland and Wales c.AD 1300-1700||PhD|
|A variety of hooks: a study of dress hooks, c AD1400-1700, recorded by PAS||Masters|
|C Howsam||Medieval book fittings||Masters|
|Peasant seals and sealing practices, C. AD1200-1500||PhD|
University of Leciester
|Medieval Mirror Cases||PhD |
University of London
|Medieval Towns of Cheshire||PhD|
University of Birmingham
|A Oksanen and Michael Lewis||Placing Medieval Markets and their landscape context|
|R Webley||Conquest and continuity: characterising portable metalwork in Late Saxon and Anglo-Norman England, AD900-1200||PhD|
|H.A. Orengo||Network analysis of the distribution of food plants in Roman and Medieval Britain||PhD|
University of Nottingham
PAS is carrying out a pilot project known as “ Medieval Markets in their Landscape Context”, which has taken finds data associated with medieval market sites and routes and looked at differences between rural locations and sites with commercial activity. Results show that there is a correlation between the distribution of finds and commercial sites with 19.3 % of medieval objects being found within approximately 1 km of a known market. The research hopes to continue when further funding and partners are found as stated by the PAS “The use of PAS data offers major new avenues of research in understanding urbanisation, commercial growth and the emergence of trade and communications networks both on national and local levels”.
Several studies using PAS data are examining the national distribution of specific late medieval find types, such as coins, to understand the distribution and exchange mechanisms (e.g. Keller 2012; Savage 2016). Keller’s doctoral research found a distinct lack of coinage in the North-West when compared with other areas of the country. This may be a result of regional bias dictated by constraints on suitable sites for the use of metal detectors or a reluctance to engage with the PAS.
Savage has studied the medieval coinage of northern England and some county summaries can be found through the PAS website, although not all counties are included. For Cheshire, a total of 461 coins were recorded (by June 2016) with the most common being Edward I (112 coins). It was also noted that no single coin find from the Chester mint (active under Kings Henry II and Edward I) has been recorded even though they were in circulation. Instead, the London mint is most represented within the dataset, followed by the Canterbury mint. Coins from Irish, Scottish and Venetian mints have also been found indicating far reaching trade networks (Savage 2016). A hoard of coins found in the parish of Beeston (Ch) in 2016 consists of 26 coins of Edward II, Edward IV, Henry VII and Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy (Fig 38). Savage notes that a more detailed study of the Cheshire’s coins is needed to answer questions on regional use and loss.
The finds assemblages from Meols on the Wirral is now published it catalogues the location of artefacts recovered from the 19th century onwards, including medieval finds. The dispersed nature of the collection means there are interpretation issues but the range of finds indicate that the site was possibly a landing site or unregulated market which originated prior to the late medieval period and operated throughout (Griffiths et al 2007).
The origins and development of the medieval market of Stockport (GM) have been studied in detail. This study ran in parallel with survey and consolidation work on a late medieval merchant’s house on the edge of the original medieval market place known as Staircase House (now a museum). The work on the restoration and presentation of the house, along with the study of the history of the medieval market was published (Arrowsmith 2010).
Analysis of recently discovered pottery assemblages is suggesting that in the northern part of the region, there were trading relationships with the NE across the Pennines. In the southern part of the region, trading relationships appear to have been with Shropshire and Ewloe in north Wales. Ewloe ware was found at Weaver Street, Chester and is thought to be from late 14th/15th century. Sandy wares from the same site are thought to be local, from a production site in or close to Chester and are probably late 13th or 14th century in date. The assemblage also included floor and roof tile fragments, again of Ewloe fabric and within the date range of the late 14th to 16th century (Garner 2015). Volume 2 of the Carlisle Millennium report puts the pottery from the excavations into context discussing the trade connections and noting trade links with south west Scotland and across the Irish Sea areas. Sites at Kendal and Dacre (C) have a small collection of pieces of Humberware from the east coast, suggesting probable Trans-Pennine trade (Howard-Davies 2009, 677). The excavations of two burgage plots at Shaw’s Weind, Appleby (C) produced significant assemblages of medieval and post medieval pottery, analysis of which has shown trade links on either side of the Pennines but also close links to the NW of the region especially Carlisle, Dacre and Penrith. As a result of this and other work, a picture is emerging of an Eden Valley ceramic tradition (Brooks et al 2013).
A study of micro fossils from palaeoenvironmental samples from Carlisle identified fig seeds and accompanying documentary research identified a reference to cumin being used during this period (Shaw 2015). These are indications of trade networks beyond the confines of the British Isles.
Restrictions on inland travel by the uplands and mosses would suggest that the coast, existing Roman Roads and rivers were the main methods of communication and trade. Discovery of the possible slip way at Cockersands (C) implies that at least for Cockersands Abbey, access to sea travel was important.
National Trust led and other landscape surveys in the Lake District are identifying and recording routeways, including possible pack horse routes and tracks between farms, settlements and fields. Route ways through valleys probably provided communications from abbeys across their widely dispersed lands. In many cases the dates of these routes are not known though many were certainly in use by the late medieval period.