2. Typology

2.1 Introduction

This typology is necessarily informed by a number of existing classifications, specifically those attributed to Ambrosiani (1981), Curle (1982), Dunlevy (1988), and MacGregor (1985, with which the present classification shares particular synergy), but others are also important (e.g. Luik 1998; Tempel 1969; Wiberg 1987). It is distinguished from continental typologies in that it includes western forms, and from most other British-based schemes in that it is designed specifically for use in the classification of combs of the Viking Age and medieval period (c. AD 850-1450). Nonetheless, a long durée understanding of comb development is fundamental to interpretation, and for this reason combs from the preceding four centuries (reaching back to the final stages of the Roman occupation of Britain) are referred to in the classification and briefly discussed. The article is intended to be of use as a general overview of current knowledge in 2011, and should appeal to period and material specialists, as well as those with less specific experience. The typology is discussed, a visual atlas and timeline are provided, and a concordance table relates this scheme to other existing classifications. For each comb type, a schematic sketch and a detailed drawing are proivided. These are accompanied by a detailed distrribution map for the British Isles, and a schematic map for the entire survey area. It should of course be noted that all of these maps are based on data from the sites covered in the present synthesis; they are thus indicative, rather than comprehensive.

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