6. Conclusion

Interactive map

In summary, metal-detecting at Cottam B since 1999 has doubled the number of finds and allows some important new conclusions to be drawn. Our research has demonstrated that there are two phases of Anglian activity, including an 8th/9th-century settlement and a 9th-century market area. This is the first time such a configuration has been identified, and it throws important new light on the nature of 'productive sites' and their development from settlements. These results contrast with those from southern England, which show transitions in the 8th-9th centuries but from one kind of lordly centre to another at sites such as Yarnton (Hey 2004).

It has also become clear that there are two phases of Viking activity, and the finds present a vivid picture of Viking takeover with an initial phase of looting probably related to a faction of the Great Army, most likely in the late 860s, before the establishment of the Anglo-Scandinavian farmstead in the 870s. Such fine dating is exceptional, other than at the historically attested winter camps. It demonstrates the value of detailed plotting of surface finds recovered by metal-detecting and its place as a legitimate technique of archaeological investigation and as a major research tool for the writing of history. Archaeological mapping has a long tradition going back to the Ordnance Survey, but with the spatial techniques employed at Cottam we are entering a new era of mapping of surface finds. Finally, the degree of chronological resolution derived from the horizontal stratigraphy at Cottam B also allows refinements of the typology and dating of early medieval artefacts with important implications for our chronology of the period. The detailed strap-end and pin typologies presented here can now be applied to a range of other sites, allowing a reassessment of their dating, particularly in relation to the transition from Anglo-Saxon to Anglo-Scandinavian England.


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