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Early medieval settlement and social power: the middle Anglo-Saxon ‘home farm’

Wright, Duncan W. (2015) Early medieval settlement and social power: the middle Anglo-Saxon ‘home farm’. Medieval Archaeology, 59 (1). pp. 24-46. ISSN 0076-6097

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00766097.2015.1119395

Abstract

The last two decades have witnessed a marked rise in middle Anglo-Saxon settlement research, as archaeologists have become increasingly aware of the way in which this transformative period in English history can be recognised through habitation sites. Though a period during which individuals and institutions seemingly wielded unprecedented new power, archaeologists have struggled to identify many of the processes or ‘motors’ by which such authority was articulated in the landscape. This paper concerns itself with understanding one such driver, demonstrating how early medieval kings shifted power from tribute-orientated regimes to ones rooted in agricultural exploitation. The Church was fundamental to this shift in authority, and was used as a means of consolidating new power relations. In order to sustain more permanent clerical communities, the Church developed core agricultural areas surrounding their centres, known as inland, upon which were established early types of ‘home farm’. In addition to their functional purpose middle Anglo-Saxon ‘home farms’ were subject to exceptionally high degrees of spatial ordering. Such definition of settlement space, which now included property plots and houses defined by boundaries of unprecedented permanence, allowed elites to shape and consolidate perceptions of social order in the landscape. Power was now being materialised, not only through agricultural production but also through the lived experience of rural communities, as a social hierarchy which considered the place of kings as divinely appointed became firmly established.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Published by Maney (now Taylor and Francis). All rights reserved. Reproduced in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Anglo-Saxon, Settlement, Landscape
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Divisions: School of Humanities
Depositing User: Dr Duncan Wright
Date Deposited: 01 Jun 2016 16:01
Last Modified: 30 Jun 2017 01:02
URI: http://researchonline.bishopg.ac.uk/id/eprint/44

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