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Title: Placed deposits in early and middle Anglo-Saxon rural settlements
Author: Sofield, Clifford M.
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2012
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Placed deposits have received increasing attention over the past 30 years, particularly in prehistoric British archaeology. Although disagreement still exists over the definition, identification, and interpretation of placed deposits, significant advances have been made in theoretical and methodological approaches to placed deposits, as researchers have gradually moved away from relatively crude ‘ritual’ interpretations toward more nuanced considerations of how placed deposits may have related to daily lives, social networks, and settlement structure, as well as worldview. With the exception of comments on specific deposits and a recent preliminary survey, however, Anglo-Saxon placed deposits have remained largely unstudied. This thesis represents the first systematic attempt to identify, characterize, analyse and interpret placed deposits in early to middle Anglo-Saxon settlements (5th–9th centuries). It begins by disentangling the various definitions of ‘placed’, ‘structured’, and ‘special’ deposits and their associated assumptions. Using formation process theory as a basis, it develops a definition of placed deposits as material that has been specially selected, treated, and/or arranged, in contrast with material from similar or surrounding contexts. This definition was applied to develop contextually specific criteria for identifying placed deposits in Anglo-Saxon settlements. Examination of 141 settlements identified a total of 151 placed deposits from 67 settlements. These placed deposits were characterized and analysed for patterns in terms of material composition, context type, location within the settlement, and timing of deposition relative to the use-life of their contexts. Broader geographical and chronological trends have also been considered. In discussing these patterns, anthropological theories of action, agency, practice, and ritualization have been employed in order to begin to understand the roles placed deposits may have had in structuring space and time and expressing social identities in Anglo-Saxon settlements, and to consider how placed deposition may have articulated with Anglo-Saxon worldview and belief systems.
Supervisor: Hamerow, Helena Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Europe ; Archeology ; Settlement ; Economic and Social History ; History of Britain and Europe ; Late antiquity and the Middle Ages ; Prehistoric and primitive religions ; Religions of antiquity ; Material anthropology ; Anglo-Saxons ; England ; early medieval ; rural settlement ; archaeology ; placed deposits ; structured deposits ; votive deposits ; offerings ; ritual ; rites ; social life ; liminality ; boundaries ; lifecycle