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Yorkshire

Yorkshire presents us with a wealth of data with which to study changes in comb manufacture and use between the 8th and 11th centuries. Numerically, the most important collection is that from York, where there is comb material from contexts dating between the Roman and post-medieval periods, though the majority can be assigned to the 10th and 11th centuries. Nonetheless, it is valuable to compare the Viking-Age corpus with its Middle Saxon antecedent. In pre-Viking phases at Fishergate and Blue Bridge Lane (Rogers 1993; Spall and Toop 2005), combs of Type 1b, 2a, 2b, 3, and 12 are known, but single-sided forms outnumber double-sided combs 4:1. In contrast, at Viking-Age Coppergate, High Ousegate, and the Lloyd's Bank site, Types 3, 4, 6, 7, 8a and 8b were identified, with rare examples of Types 2a, 9, and 12 (MacGregor 1982; MacGregor et al. 1999). A single (possibly intrusive) fragment of Type 13 was recovered from an 11th- to 12th-century context in phase 6 at Coppergate. Collections from later medieval sites - such as The Bedern - are characterised by Type 14b combs (see Ashby 2006, 147).

Sites in rural Yorkshire provide much smaller quantities of data, but excavations at West Heslerton, Wharram, Cottam and Burdale (see Ashby 2006; Ashby in prep. a; MacGregor 2000; Richards 1999), suggest a broadly similar situation to that seen in the towns. Indeed, by the Viking Age at least, it is possible that the combs used by the occupants of such settlements acquired their combs at these larger market centres (comb use in early medieval Yorkshire is considered in more detail in Ashby in press b).

 

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