Anglo-Saxon settlements and archaeological visibility in the Yorkshire Wolds

Anglo-Saxon settlements and archaeological visibility in the Yorkshire Wolds

By J.D. Richards

Early Deira: Archaeological studies of the East Riding in the fourth to ninth centuries AD. (Oxbow Books, 2000)

Abstract:  Rural Anglo-Saxon settlements in the hinterland of York are notoriously invisible. As a result of major urban rescue archaeology campaigns in the 1970s, more could be inferred about Anglo-Saxon Yorkshire from finds in York than from rural sites. That picture is gradually changing. During the last ten yews, research on two sites in the Yorkshire Wolds – Wharram Percy and Cottam – now allows us to explain this invisibility, and to characterise settlements of this period.

This paper describes how a battery of archaeological techniques, including aerial photography, resistivity, magnetometry, fieldwalking, excavation, and collaboration with metal-detectorists have been used in combination to identify and map these sites, with Geographical Information Systems (GIS) used to integrate the information.

The conclusion to be drawn is that early medieval sites are not so much invisible as hitherto unrecognised, and the foundations have now been laid for a programme of identification based upon remote sensing and cropmark morphology.

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