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Technology, ritual and Anglo-Saxon agriculture: the biography of a plough coulter from Lyminge, Kent

  • Gabor Thomas (a1), Gerry McDonnell (a2), John Merkel (a3) and Peter Marshall (a4)

The discovery of an unusual early medieval plough coulter in a well-dated Anglo-Saxon settlement context in Kent suggests that continentally derived technology was in use in this powerful kingdom centuries before heavy ploughs were first depicted in Late Saxon manuscripts. The substantial investment required to manufacture the coulter, the significant damage and wear that it sustained during use and the circumstances of its ultimate ritual deposition are explored. Investigative conservation, high-resolution recording and metallographic analysis illuminate the form, function and use-life of the coulter. An examination of the deposition contexts of plough-irons in early medieval northern Europe sheds important new light on the ritual actions of plough symbolism in an age of religious hybridity and transformation.

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