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An Introduction to the Archaeology of Middle Saxon England, c. AD650–850

Paul Blinkhorn on his bike with Time Team at West Langton, Leicestershire, 27th July 2010 (Sam Newton)

with Paul Blinkhorn (Independent Archaeological Consultant)

in The Old Court, Sutton Hoo (map)
on Saturday, 24th March, 2012.

An examination of the archaeological discoveries of the last 30 years, which have shown that the Middle Saxon period saw a radical change in England, with the first major population centres and coinage since Roman times, and an economic and cultural boom on a European-wide scale.

Provisional Programme
  10.00 Coffee on arrival  
  10.15 The 7th century saw many changes in the Anglo-Saxon way of like, particularly in the area of dress and personal items, but also in the way people lived, with new forms of settlements and different ways of living. The political map of the country also changed, with major power blocs emerging from the myriad, largely small-scale kingdoms of the 5th and 6th centuries. This section will look at those changes, particularly in the area of artefacts and personal accessories, and also examining the pottery of the time, with particular reference to Ipswich Ware, the first true post-Roman pottery industry.  
  11.15 Coffee  
  11.45 Perhaps the most important aspect of Middle Saxon England in archaeological terms, is the rise of specialist trade and production centres and the first post-Roman centres the size of towns, the wics. These places were the engine rooms of an economic boom which placed England on the high table of European power, and at one end of a trade network which spread as far to the east as Baghdad, and perhaps further. Their need for food, drink and raw materials were responsible for the changes in settlements and production seen in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. This section will examine the archaeological nature of the wics, Ipswich, Southampton, York and London, and also the archaeological evidence for trade and production in the countryside at that time.  
  12.45 Lunch break (bring picnic or eat in NT restaurant)  
  14:00 The Middle Saxon Economy, Part 2: A Single European Market? Perhaps the most important aspect of this trade was the introduction of a silver coinage with a wide-spread circulation and many different guises, but a consistent silver content which made it acceptable to traders from any nation, no matter where it was made: a single European currency. As the trading ports of England, the wics, emerged, so did counterparts in most of coastal north-west Europe, and these continental places had connections far to the east. This section will look at the coinage of the period, and how it developed, and the archaeological evidence for trade gathered from these continental sites, as well as examine how the trade goods were physically moved.  
  15:00 Tea break  
  15:15 Places of Power: Palaces, Lords and the Church.
One of the most momentous events of the middle Saxon period was the completion of the acceptance of Christianity. This, along with the emergence of kingdoms, saw places of power, monasteries, palaces, 'lordly' settlements, administration centres and churches, begin to appear, and with them, a complex and multi-layered society. This section will look at the picture we have of such places obtained through excavation, and what it tells us about how they functioned.
  c.16:20 Close  

About Paul Blinkhorn

Paul studied Archaeological Sciences at Bradford University and has since spent 25 years as an archaeologist running excavations and landscape projects in Britain and Italy. He is a specialist in the study of Anglo-Saxon and medieval pottery and is currently a visiting lecturer in Medieval Pottery at Cambridge University. He also teaches the Anglo-Saxon Archaeology module for the Archaeology Certificate at Leicester University. He has been a guest expert on Time Team since 1998, and presenter on the archaeological magazine programme PastFinders for Meridian Television in 2002. More recently (2010) he took part in Michael Wood’s BBC series, The Story of England, has contributed to the follow-up series, The Story of the Nation, to be broadcast in the spring of 2012. He is the lead archaeologist and co-presenter on the recent History Channel series Pub Dig, to be screened on Channel 5 in April. His interests outside archaeology include art, music, football, beer, rugby league and motorbikes.

Some suggestions for further reading
(useful but not essential)

To be added


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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We have learnt of the fame of the Wuffing folk-lords of long ago, of how those wolf-kings held the ancestral land of East Anglia....
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