Anglo-Saxon Landscape and Economy: using portable antiquities to study Anglo-Saxon and Viking Age England

Julian D. Richards*, John Naylor^ and Caroline Holas-Clark*

* Dept Archaeology, University of York. Email:
^ Heberden Coin Room, The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. Email:


Metal detecting and recording in the field

In the last fifteen years the role of metal-detected objects in archaeological research has greatly increased through reporting to the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) and the Early Medieval Corpus (EMC). There are now thousands more artefacts and coins known than a decade ago which, in conjunction with fieldwork, have the potential to revolutionise our understanding of the early medieval period. This is the first time that these data have been examined on a national scale. Such an approach enables the detailed analysis of the nature of portable antiquities data, the bias within such datasets and the relationship between patterns of recovery and historic settlement (Sections 2 and 3). In the light of these new interpretations of the overall datasets, the most artefact- and coin-rich sites, known as 'productive sites', can be analysed within a new framework of understanding (Section 4). This article is a major outcome of the Viking and Anglo-Saxon Landscape and Economy (VASLE) project, funded by AHRC research grant APN18370. In addition to the narrative elements of the article, readers are able to access the original datasets to draw their own maps, and to call up charts of the artefact assemblages for over 60 'productive sites'. The secondary datasets developed for the project are also available from the Archaeology Data Service.

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