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The landscape and ecology of the Anglo-Saxon Conversion: a multiproxy environmental and geoarchaeological contexturalisation of the high-status settlement at Lyminge, Kent

Maslin, S. P. (2017) The landscape and ecology of the Anglo-Saxon Conversion: a multiproxy environmental and geoarchaeological contexturalisation of the high-status settlement at Lyminge, Kent. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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This thesis presents an environmental contexturalisation of the high-status Anglo Saxon settlement at Lyminge in Kent. This site is of national and international importance in understanding the developmental trajectory of high-status centres in England across the Anglo-Saxon conversion to Christianity, with an occupation sequence spanning the 5th to the 11th centuries A.D., incorporating a 7th century ‘great hall complex’ which later developed into a royal monastery. The integrated palaeoecological and geoarchaeological investigation in this thesis is rare for Anglo-Saxon sites, particularly for downland landscapes long considered to have limited palaeoenvironmental potential. A diverse range of both on and off-site datasets are investigated, including Mollusca, pollen, geomorphology and sediment micromorphology. Such a diversity of evidence generates an analytical framework compartmentalised by scale into on-site, catchment and regional perspectives, providing a high degree of interpretative robustness. Sources of evidence include occupation contexts, off-site lynchet sequences and, most importantly, a series of paleochannels and organic deposits containing evidence for wood working, livestock management and cereal cultivation. It is rare to find organic preservation in association with an Anglo-Saxon rural settlement and this is the first time that such a sequence has been analysed in association with a known Anglo-Saxon royal and monastic centre. The results demonstrate stability in land management and vegetation history from the late Romano British to the medieval periods. Continuities of territory and resourcing are demonstrated which predate and define the development of landscapes during later periods. This evidence is employed to critique previous models of landscape economy and estate development, challenging the assumed relationships of Kentish settlements to pre-Anglo-Saxon geographies and contemporary biomes. These findings demonstrate both the high degree of continuity exhibited by Anglo-Saxon subsistence economies across the conversion period in Kent and the antiquity of later monastic estate territories. The depth of analysis demonstrates the importance of integrating individually fragmentary ecological and geoarchaeological datasets with excavation records in order to contexturalise archaeological interpretations.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Thomas, G. and Bell, M.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Archaeology, Geography & Environmental Science
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science
ID Code:74319


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