1.3 Structure and outline

Having described the project aims and background, this section outlines the remaining structure of this report.

Section 2, 'The nature of portable antiquities', examines the recovery of metal-detected data, the influence of constraints on data collection and how these might relate to ancient settlement patterns using the entire Portable Antiquities Scheme dataset, plotted against a range of base maps. These include physical topography and a specially designed 'constraints' map, which shows those elements most likely to affect the recovery of finds by metal-detector. Analysis is based around regional surveys of the data, which can be linked directly to further regional study in Section 3. Control datasets for individual periods highlight changing ancient settlement patterns or use of/access to metalwork and coins. In addition a range of quantitative analyses are also undertaken on the data relating to the make-up of the overall dataset.

Section 2 provides a framework for the interpretation of metal-detected data and the nature of these data in relation to different periods. This highlights not only the challenges faced but also its potential role for profoundly changing how we approach regional archaeological interpretations.

Section 3, 'Settlement patterns and material culture in 8th-11th century England', presents the early medieval evidence from the Portable Antiquities Scheme and the Early Medieval Corpus of single coin finds, providing a detailed examination of the data, both quantitative and geographical. This is undertaken within the framework of interpretation produced in Section 2. The data are explored regionally and chronologically with reference to other archaeological and historical evidence. Quantitative analysis is designed to highlight aspects of the dataset, including the composition of the dataset by metal or artefact type. From these analyses, the changing nature of the data can be clearly seen both through time and on a regional scale. The national distributions of coinage are described and the potential of national distributions of artefact types to illuminate issues of cultural identity is highlighted, using equestrian equipment as a case study.

Section 4, 'Interpreting "productive sites"', focuses on the most artefact- and coin-rich sites, known collectively as 'productive sites'. Their interpretation remains contentious and analysis on a national scale has not been attempted previously, nor based on foundations of the type produced in Sections 2 and 3. This section begins by assessing their distribution, showing that this cannot be interpreted through the nature of recovery alone and their distribution must also relate to the nature of metal/coin use in the period allied to socio-economics on a regional basis. A sample of individual 'productive sites' is then examined as a series of case-studies, alongside a number of excavated sites that are used as control datasets. Landscape elements, access to communication routes, and settlement history in the local region provide a background against which quantitative analysis of the assemblages can be placed.

Section 4 enhances our understanding of the nature of 'productive sites', including a new framework for understanding individual sites in terms of a series of charts that provide fingerprints of their metalwork and coin assemblages.

Finally, Section 5, brings together the results of Sections 2-4 to provide an overall discussion of their interpretations, and assesses the contribution of portable antiquities to our understanding landscape and economy in Anglo-Saxon and Viking Age England.

Interactive map

An important associated element of this publication is to make the datasets used and interpretations made as transparent and testable as possible. By linking with the ADS archive, readers are able to produce their own maps from the project's dataset and base maps. The interactive mapping adds value to the choice of electronic publication over traditional paper publication, and has the potential to provide new ideas for research in its own right.


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Last updated: Tues Apr 21 2009