5. The Contribution of Portable Antiquities to an understanding of Landscape and Economy in Anglo-Saxon and Viking Age England

The period from the 7th to the 9th centuries witnessed some major changes in Middle Saxon England. These included a revival of international trade networks, the emergence of a large-scale silver coinage, and the development of emporia or wics. It is also becoming clear that emporia were not the only sites acting as markets or participating in trade in this period. An expanding body of archaeological evidence, mostly from metal-detecting, is revealing the presence of smaller trading sites, and challenging the notion that rural communities were excluded from the economic system.

These developments were also accompanied by significant changes in the landscape. As Middle Saxon polities emerged from earlier Anglo-Saxon tribal groupings a more complex settlement hierarchy emerged, with royal and ecclesiastical centres and lower order estate centres for the collection and redistribution of surplus production. From at least the 9th century, such local centres often became detached from their regional hub with the break up of the former great estates.

Such changes were set against a background of the formation of cultural identity at regional and national level. The peoples of the different Middle Saxon kingdoms spawned different fashions in dress, and with the Viking invasions of the 9th and 10th centuries there were additional identities to assimilate.


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