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Title: Agricultural development in Mid Saxon England
Author: McKerracher, Mark James
ISNI:       0000 0004 3720 1121
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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Over the past decade, historians and archaeologists have become increasingly aware that the Mid Saxon period in England (7th-9th centuries AD) witnessed a transformation in agricultural practices. According to the emergent consensus, in contrast to the heavily pastoral, broadly subsistence-based mode of agriculture characteristic of the Early Saxon period (5th-7th centuries), Mid Saxon agriculture was geared towards higher levels of surplus production and placed a greater emphasis upon arable farming. The increased cultivation of bread wheat and the specialist production of sheep’s wool have been identified as particularly important innovations of this period. This thesis represents the first attempt to explore agricultural development in Mid Saxon England on a systematic archaeological basis. It considers settlement, zooarchaeological, and archaeobotanical evidence in detail, with a special emphasis on charred plant remains. The analyses utilize data gathered from excavation reports, published and unpublished, covering two case study regions: (i) the Upper/Middle Thames valley and environs, and (ii) East Anglia and Essex. In addition, a sub-assemblage of charred plant remains from a Mid Saxon monastic site at Lyminge (Kent) is studied at first hand. In this way, a series of agricultural innovations is identified in the archaeological record, including in particular: specialized pastoralism, an increased emphasis on sheep in some regions, an expansion of arable production, growth in fibre production, growth in cereal surpluses, a consequent investment in specialist storage and processing facilities, and a general diversification of crop spectra. These innovations were contingent upon, and adapted to, local environmental factors. The process of agricultural development is thought to have begun in the 7th century and continued through the 8th and 9th centuries, facilitated and stimulated by newly consolidated élite landholdings and, probably, a growing population.
Supervisor: Hamerow, Helena; Bogaard, Amy Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Archeology ; Anglo-Saxon England ; History of agriculture ; Anglo-Saxon ; agriculture ; archaeology ; archaeobotany ; zooarchaeology