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Elite power in the landscapes of early medieval Europe

  • Duncan W. Wright (a1)
Extract

The early medieval period in Europe is commonly viewed as a time of emerging nations, as the institutions, lineages and territories that we recognise as integral to medieval and later states were established. The preoccupation with nationhood is the primary reason that earlier generations of early medieval scholars often limited the geographic focus of their studies, with their findings feeding back into broader narratives of national culture, identity and ethnicity. Such research traditions have taken some time to evolve, but thankfully the last decade or so has seen a marked increase in the publication of archaeologically orientated studies with a broader remit. The ability to compare and contrast the evidence from other regions has resulted in a much- improved research environment, transforming our understanding of the period. Two of the publications reviewed here, Fortified settlements in early medieval Europe and Making Christian landscapes in Atlantic Europe, represent the latest additions to this positive trend, comprising edited volumes with impressive coverage across the Continent. While the third volume, Social complexity in early medieval rural communities, is concentrated solely on Iberia, it is an equally welcome addition, as its publication in English is likely to broaden readership and open up the archaeology of the area to new audiences. Each contribution explores distinct material, although the articulation of elite power, and the means by which archaeologists can detect that power, is the prominent theme throughout.

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References
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Christie, N., Creighton, O.H., Edgeworth, M. & Hamerow, H.. 2013. Transforming townscapes: from burh to borough: the archaeology of Wallingford, AD 800–1400. London: The Society for Medieval Archaeology.
Herold, H. 2011. The fortified hilltop site of Gars-Thunau and the settlements of the 9th and 10th centuries AD in Lower Austria, in Macháček, J. & Ungerman, S. (ed.) Frühgeschichtliche Zentralorte in Mitteleuropa (Studien zur Archäologie Europas 14): 519–28. Bonn: Habelt.
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Antiquity
  • ISSN: 0003-598X
  • EISSN: 1745-1744
  • URL: /core/journals/antiquity
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