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Title: The Avon Valley in the fifth to mid-seventh centuries : contacts and coalescence in a frontier polity?
Author: Tompkins, Abigail
ISNI:       0000 0004 6493 8858
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2017
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The study of bounded polities is dominated by research which focuses on those landscapes and those sites believed to lie at the territorial core, often overlooking the 'bounded' nature of these units. This research, in contrast, advocates that for a new perspective on the development of socio-political units, studies which concentrate on frontier zones should be prioritised. Consequently this thesis refocuses attention on the frontier zones between polities, proposing a methodology for working in and identifying frontier zones and promoting these areas as dynamic landscapes, integral to the emergence, development, and maintenance of socio-political units during the early medieval period. This methodology combines investigation of the distribution of distinct material culture, burial practices, and patterns of landscape use with an approach more frequently used by anthropologists – the identification of processes characteristic of frontier environments. The Avon Valley, the landscape through which the historically attested 7th century frontier between the Hwicce and Mercia ran, provides the ideal environment in which to explore the origins of early medieval polities. A dataset of 58 sites within this study area is analysed. The focus on the Avon Valley also aims to highlight the potential of this oft overlooked part of the country. It aims to show the wealth of archaeological and toponymic data available and the contribution this region can make to the study of the early medieval period. The results of this analysis demonstrate that the Avon Valley was divided into an eastern and western zone as early as the 5th and 6th centuries. This has direct implications for the later emergence of the kingdom of the Hwicce. It suggests that between these two zones lay an area of contact and coalescence. This evidence, along with conclusions drawn from comparative studies of placenames, the western Severn Valley, and the middle Trent Valley, was used to set forth two new models for kingdom formation. These models focus on the interactions between polities, foregrounding the significance of external relations alongside internal developments.
Supervisor: Hamerow, Helena Sponsor: School of Archaeology ; University of Oxford
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available