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The EMC and PAS datasets provide comparable distributions across West Central England with concentrations in southerly and south-easterly areas (Fig. 73). The pattern is sparser in the northern Midlands, but with greater numbers of finds made in the Cheshire Plain. Discrepancies between the two datasets can be seen in two areas. In Cheshire (away from the Wirral) there is a dearth of coinage compared to artefacts, although it should be noted that there are only small numbers (less than 20 artefacts). However, these date from the Middle Saxon through to the Late Saxon period and there is a good range of types, including pins, strap-ends, and weights. Unlike northern England where differences can be seen within the nature of the PAS and EMC, the lack of coinage may represent some kind of reality in these areas (or at least that coin use may have been restricted to towns and other, rural, locations that remain occupied today). In the south-east of the region in Oxfordshire, by comparison, there is a concentration of coinage, although this may reflect coin finds logged by the Ashmolean Museum.

The distribution of early medieval finds follows the same overall pattern as the general distribution (Fig. 14) but there are some major anomalies in the relative concentrations of finds. The urban conurbations of the West Midlands, Liverpool and Greater Manchester and the rural uplands of the Welsh border are sparse for all periods, but there are also far fewer early medieval finds than would be expected in the Wirral and rural Cheshire, in Staffordshire and Shropshire north-east of Birmingham, and in southern Derbyshire. Some of these gaps may reflect areas of woodland or wetland in the early medieval period, but they must otherwise be explained by differences in the use and loss of material culture. In particular one might postulate that away from the areas of settlement and migration in eastern England, cultural identity was less contested in West Central England and that consequently dress accessories were less commonly used to create and signal identity.

Figure 74
Figure 74: Chart showing proportion of PAS finds in West Central England categorised by broad period

Figure 75
Figure 75: The artefact 'fingerprint' for West Central England

Figure 76
Figure 76: The coinage 'fingerprint' for West Central England

If the PAS data is broken down by broad period sub-divisions (Fig. 74) it is apparent that the distribution is broadly comparable to the national average, although a smaller proportion of finds can be specifically dated as Middle Saxon, while an equivalent number can be dated only as Anglo-Saxon. In common with the national picture, there are more Late Saxon than Middle Saxon finds.

The artefact fingerprint for West Central England (Fig. 75) demonstrates a spread across the usual range of objects, with strap-ends as the most common type and fewer pins than other regions. There are more pennies than sceats in this region and, as would be expected, very few stycas.

The coinage fingerprint (Fig. 76) also follows the national pattern, with the same increase in coinage in the first half of the 8th century, peaking c. 740, and then much lower volumes of coinage until the early 11th century. Indeed, by the mid-11th century there is a higher level of coin loss than is typical for England.

In conclusion, the early medieval finds from West Central England conform to a national pattern in terms of both chronological range and types of objects found, but there are some notable areas where portable antiquities are common for other periods but are sparse for this, probably reflecting differential use of dress accessories rather than absence of settlement.


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Last updated: Tues Apr 21 2009