An archaeology of trade in Eastern England, c.650-900 CE
The project was an examination of trade through the regional survey and analysis of archaeological data from middle Saxon England. Much previous work had focused towards long-distance trade articulated through urban ports, and the thesis aimed to provide new methods for the study of the early medieval economy by placing these urban settlements within a regional setting. It examined trade within regions as a whole, rather than concentrating only on the archaeologically most visible, i.e. long-distance trade. A comparative, study area approach was adopted for analysis, with two regions (Kent and Yorkshire) chosen. Methodology was based on both detailed analysis of artefact distributions throughout the middle Saxon period, and comparative examination of individual site assemblages. As a result, networks of trade, and the movement of goods could be assessed, and individual sites placed within this context. Specific artefact groups were chosen which highlighted different aspects of trade (coinage, pottery, stone artefects, and metalwork), and other materials, both archaeological and historical, were utilised wherever possible. Both study areas were also discussed in the context of middle Saxon eastern England, in order to provide a broader interpretation of early medieval trade. These analyses showed that the early medieval economy was more complex than has been previously proposed, with distinct regional variations apparent. A number of sites were interpreted as inland markets, their positions suggestive of an overall political control of trade, and most coin rich sites were located close enough to the coast to easily gain direct access to long-distance coastal trade. The church may have been heavily involved. Much trade appears to have been centred around the movement of utilitarian goods, including stone, foodstuffs, salt and slaves, and royal interest in the regulation of trade focused on the large revenues available through tolls.