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An original and approachable account of how archaeology can tell the story of the English village. Shapwick lies in the middle of Somerset, next to the important monastic centre of Glastonbury: the abbey owned the manor for 800 years from the 8th to the 16th century and its abbots and officials had a great influence on the lives of the peasants who lived there. It is possible that abbot Dunstan, one of the great reformers of tenth century monasticism directed the planning of the village. The Shapwick Project examined the development and history of an English parish and village over a ten thousand-year period. This was a truly multi-disciplinary project. Not only were a battery of archaeological and historical techniques explored - such as field walking, test-pitting, archaeological excavation, aerial reconnaissance, documentary research and cartographic analysis - but numerous other techniques such as building analysis, dendrochronological dating and soil analysis were undertaken on a large scale. The result is a fascinating study about how the community lived and prospered in Shapwick. In addition we learn how a group of enthusiastic and dedicated scholars unravelled this story. As such there is much here to inspire and enthuse others who might want to embark on a landscape study of a parish or village area. Seven of the ten chapters begin with a fictional vignette to bring the story of the village to life. Text-boxes elucidate re-occurring themes and techniques. Extensively illustrated in colour including 100 full page images.
A fascinating review of archaeological Great Britain, covering the deep archaeology of this long-settled island—from early hominid remains through the modern world—as well as Great Britain’s role in the larger archaeological realm.
The Archaeology of the 11th Century addresses many key questions surrounding this formative period of English history and considers conditions before 1066 and how these changed. The impact of the Conquest of England by the Normans is the central focus of the book, which not only assesses the destruction and upheaval caused by the invading forces, but also examines how the Normans contributed to local culture, religion, and society. The volume explores a range of topics including food culture, funerary practices, the development of castles and their impact, and how both urban and rural life evolved during the 11th century. Through its nuanced approach to the complex relationships and regional identities which characterised the period, this collection stimulates renewed debate and challenges some of the long-standing myths surrounding the Conquest. Presenting new discoveries and fresh ideas in a readable style with numerous illustrations, this interdisciplinary book is an invaluable resource for those interested in the archaeology, history, geography, art, and literature of the 11th century.
This detailed and original study of early-modern agrarian society in the Somerset Levels examines the small landholders in a group of sixteen contiguous parishes in the area known as Brent Marsh. These were farmers with lifehold tenures and a mixed agricultural production whose activities and outlook are shown to be very different from that of the small 'peasant' farmers of so many general histories. Patricia Croot challenges the idea that small farmers failed to contribute to the productivity and commercialization of the early-modern economy. While the emergence of large capitalist farms was an important development, these added to the production of existing small cultivators, rather than replacing them. The idea that only large-scale, specialized farmers were involved in agricultural progress, or that their contribution alone was enough to account for the great increase in food production by the late 17th century is questioned; small farmers continued to make a living, contributed to the market, and survived alongside the new, bigger farms. Croot's in-depth study not only adds to our knowledge of agrarian society generally, but shows that far from being backward and interested primarily in subsistence farming, small producers in this area sought profit in making the best use of their resources, however limited, being flexible in their production and growing new or unusual crops. The main land tenures, copy and lease for lives, are also covered in detail, contributing to current debates on landholding and sub-tenancy. The author shows the uses to which lifehold tenures could be put, resulting in the increasing financial strength of copyholders and their dominance in local society. The effects of the tenure and profits of farming can be seen in the way that families were provided for, as well as in the roles that women played and the responsibility they had in economic and social life, while the wider interests of the inhabitants are shown in their religious and political engagement in events of the 17th century. Patricia Croot's meticulous study is a valuable contribution to English agrarian history, and in particular to the history of this under-researched region.
The landscape history of North-East England has not been studied as much as other parts of the country. This book begins to fill this gap by utilizing Actor-Network Theory (ANT) to re-assess the familiar topics of enclosure and improvement. It reveals the contribution of local 'actors' – including landowners, tenants and the landscape itself – to these 'processes'. In so doing it transforms our understanding of the way in which the landscape of Northumberland was created during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and carries wider implications for how we might approach enclosure in other parts of the country.
The Middle Ages are all around us in Britain. The Tower of London and the castles of Scotland and Wales are mainstays of cultural tourism and an inspiring cross-section of later medieval finds can now be seen on display in museums across England, Scotland, and Wales. Medieval institutions fromParliament and monarchy to universities are familiar to us and we come into contact with the later Middle Ages every day when we drive through a village or town, look up at the castle on the hill, visit a local church or wonder about the earthworks in the fields we see from the window of a train.The Oxford Handbook of Later Medieval Archaeology in Britain provides an overview of the archaeology of the later Middle Ages in Britain between AD 1066 and 1550. 61 entries, divided into 10 thematic sections, cover topics ranging from later medieval objects, human remains, archaeological science,standing buildings, and sites such as castles and monasteries, to the well-preserved relict landscapes which still survive. This is a rich and exciting period of the past and most of what we have learnt about the material culture of our medieval past has been discovered in the past two generations.This volume provides comprehensive coverage of the latest research and describes the major projects and concepts that are changing our understanding of our medieval heritage.
The Shapwick Project, undertaken between 1989-99 is one of the most detailed studies of a single medieval settlement and its landscape. A principal aim of the project was to examine processes of nucleation, a current hot topic in medieval archaeology. This massive volume represents the final report from the project. It contains sections on methodology, on the various surveys undertaken (historical, architectural, archaeological and ecological), on the excavations themselves and on the finds, both material and environmental. The conclusions chart the development of settlement patterns at Shapwick from prehistory to the present day.

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