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1. Introduction

During the late 9th and early 10th centuries AD the English landscape was transformed. In the aftermath of invasion by a Viking army in AD 866, there was significant disruption of traditional patterns of landholding (Richards 2004). This was a new and much larger force than earlier Viking raiding parties, and comprised several warbands, each under their own leaders. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle describes it as the Great Army, or micel here (Whitelock 1961), and it appears to have been intent on territorial conquest, as well as the acquisition of portable wealth, including slaves, in addition to silver and gold. From AD 876-886 military victory against each of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of East Anglia, Mercia and Northumbria was followed by land seizures by the leaders of the Great Army. The ongoing break-up of former royal and ecclesiastical rural estates and their transfer to private ownership was accelerated and a new settlement pattern emerged, underpinning the landscape of nucleated villages reflected by 1086 in the Domesday Book. By that stage many of the settlements in eastern and northern England had been given names that reflect Scandinavian influence and, irrespective of when these names were first used, significant changes in land ownership and settlement naming must have followed from the territorial partitions of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms (Richards 2004, 49-77).

In Northumbria the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records that in AD 876 the land was seized by a section of the Great Army that had returned north under their leader Halfdan, whose followers famously 'proceeded to plough and support themselves' (Whitelock 1961, 48). In the chalk uplands of the Yorkshire Wolds, which by Domesday had one of the densest distributions of Scandinavian-influenced place names, this change can be seen archaeologically. From the mid/late 7th to mid/late 9th centuries (during the 'Middle Saxon' or in this region 'Anglian' period), the Wolds had a non-nucleated settlement pattern. The undulating landscape was transected by north-south droveways extending up from the Vale of Pickering to the north to rich grazing pastures on the Wolds, where there were farmsteads every few miles (Richards 2013; Wrathmell 2012a; 2012b). These are characterised by clusters of sub-rectangular enclosures that have been observed from aerial photography and geophysical survey and named 'Butterwick-type' after the site in Ryedale (North Yorkshire), which was one of the first examples to be identified (Stoertz 1997, 55-9; Wrathmell 2012b, 106-13). Although Everson and Stocker (2012) have suggested that these were temporary summer grazing sites the bulk of the evidence, including a wide range of craft activities and the animal bone assemblages, supports the interpretation that there was permanent all year round occupation (Wrathmell 2012c). Several examples have now been excavated, generally where they have been discovered by metal-detector users, as in this region they are often characterised by rich assemblages of copper-alloy dress accessories and coins, which has led to them being termed 'productive sites' (Pestell and Ulmschneider 2003; Richards et al. 2009). The quantities of metal artefacts, especially coins, pins and strap-ends, found at these sites are exceptional compared to the numbers from other periods, and although it is still debated whether they functioned as periodic markets, local tax collection centres, or manufacturing centres (or combinations of all of these and more), it is clear that economic transactions form a significant part of the activities represented by the finds. Similar metal-rich sites have also been identified in Scandinavia, but here they are often interpreted in terms of a transition from cultic places, to trading sites, to proto-towns (Jørgensen 2010; Skre 2010; Fabech and Näsman 2013; Carver 2015). Excavated 'productive sites' in the Yorkshire Wolds now include Cottam (Richards 1999a), Cowlam (Richards 2013) and Burdale (Richards and Roskams 2012; 2013a; 2013b). These Butterwick-type enclosures also represent the Middle Saxon phase as revealed by geophysics at Wharram Percy (Wrathmell 2012b), although the guardianship status of Wharram, which prevents metal-detecting, means that it is not 'productive' in the same sense (Richards 1999b). From the mid-9th century, however, these enclosures were abandoned and replaced by new forms of settlement that evolved into nucleated villages with planned layouts (Wrathmell 2012d).

These sweeping changes in land ownership were accompanied by transformations in personal dress, which are also reflected at the 'productive sites'. Scandinavian decorative ornament in Borre and Jellinge styles appeared on mass-produced dress accessories, albeit not in the same numbers as Anglian forms, and there were also new Anglo-Scandinavian styles (Kershaw 2012; 2013) and artefact types, such as Norse bells (Schoenfelder and Richards 2011). There were major economic changes as well and the Northumbrian monetary economy, represented by the copper-alloy low denomination styca coinage, was replaced or at least supplemented by silver bullion transactions determined by weight.


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