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Thinking about Things: Assembly Sites and the History of the English Hundreds

Kiftsgate Stone, meeting-place of Kiftsgate Hundred, Gloucestershire (John Baker)

with Dr John Baker (University of Nottingham) & Stuart Brookes (University College London)

in The Old Court, Sutton Hoo (map)
on Saturday, 10th December, 2011

A study of the meeting-places in the landscape which formed the framework of late Anglo-Saxon legal and governmental administration and which are fundamental to understanding our local, regional and national histories.

In early medieval England, matters of legal and governmental administration were carried out through a series of public assemblies – the national witan, shire and borough moots, and the meetings of hundreds or wapentakes. Many of the hundred and wapentake gatherings took place in the open air, and gave their names to their districts. By studying the sites at which these meetings took place, we can attempt to understand the structure of local legal administration, its landscape setting, and the origins and evolution of Anglo-Saxon government.

Provisional Programme
  10.00 Coffee on arrival  
  10.15 Laws, Hundreds, and things: a history of Anglo-Saxon assembly.  
  11.15 Coffee  
  11.45 The archaeology of Anglo-Saxon assembly sites: new approaches.  
  12.45 Lunch break (bring picnic or eat in NT restaurant)  
  14:00 Understanding the landscape of assembly: site visit and survey.  
  15:00 Tea break  
  15:15 Place-names and Anglo-Saxon assembly.  
  16:20 Close  

About Dr John Baker & Stuart Brookes

John Baker is Research Fellow at the Institute for Name-Studies, University of Nottingham, and a part-time tutor at the Institute of Continuing Education, University of Cambridge. He has worked on two major Leverhulme-funded research projects: Beyond the Burghal Hidage (with others, including Stuart Brookes) and Landscapes of Governance. His publications include Cultural Transition in the Chilterns and Essex Region, c.350-c.650.

Stuart Brookes is Research Fellow at the UCL Institute of Archaeology and sessional lecturer for Birkbeck College. He specialises in comparative landscape studies and the archaeologies of state formation. His recent publications include Landscapes of Defence in the Viking Age (with J. Baker and A. Reynolds), The Kingdom and People of Kent (with S. Harrington) and Economics and Social Change in Anglo-Saxon Kent AD 400-900. He is currently working on the project Landscapes of Governance: Assembly Sites in England 5th-11th centuries.

Some suggestions for further reading
(useful but not essential)

Loyn, H.R., The Governance of Anglo-Saxon England (London, 1984), especially chapter 6.
Gelling, M., Signposts to the Past (3rd edition (but earlier editions will also do); Chichester1997), especially chapter 8.
Pantos, A. & S.Semple, (eds.), Assembly Places and Practices in Medieval Europe (Dublin, 2004).
Barnwell, P.S. & M.Mostert, Political Assemblies in the Early Middle Ages (Turnhout, 2003).
Cam, H., Liberties and Communities in Medieval England: Collected Studies in Local Administration and Topography (Cambridge, 1963).
Anderson, O.S., English Hundred-Names (3 volumes; Lund, 1934-39)
Pantos, A., Assembly-Places in the Anglo-Saxon Period: Aspects of Form and Location (DPhil Thesis, Oxford, 2002)

And some useful articles: the first specifically discussing the Suffolk hundreds, the second discussing the Danelaw, and the third dealing with Cambridgeshire but touching also on Suffolk:
Warner, P., 'Pre-Conquest territorial and administrative organization in east Suffolk', in D. Hooke (ed.), Anglo-Saxon Settlements (Oxford, 1988).
Turner, S., 'Aspects of the development of public assembly in the Danelaw', http://www.assemblage.group.shef.ac.uk/5/turner.html
Meaney, A., 'Hundred meeting-places in the Cambridge region', in Rumble, A.R., & A.D. Mills (eds.), Names, Places and People: an Onomastic Miscellany in Memory of John McNeal Dodgson (Stamford, 1997).


Please phone or email to check the availability of places.  Study Days are £38 per person, which includes a full day of lectures, access to the NT site, parking, coffee and tea throughout the day, and access to the NT exhibition.  Once you have reserved your place please send a cheque to confirm the booking. For your first booking please complete the application form to ensure that we have recorded your contact details correctly.

Wuffing Education,
4 Hilly Fields,
Woodbridge, Suffolk IP12 4DX
(tel : 01394 386498)

Email cliff AT wuffingeducation.co.uk
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Website www.wuffingeducation.co.uk

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