The Role of Anglo-Saxon Great Hall Complexes in Kingdom Formation, in Comparison and in Context AD 500-750
Following the collapse of Roman Britain, early medieval England shows little evidence for complex hierarchy or supra-regional socio-political units for nearly two hundred years, until the turn of the 7th century, when the documented emergence of Anglo-Saxon kingdoms is seemingly confirmed by the sudden appearance of the first high-status settlements – the so-called great hall complexes. This book explores the role of great hall complexes in kingdom formation through an expansive and ambitious study, incorporating new fieldwork, new quantitative methodologies and new theoretical models for the emergence of high-status settlements and the formation and consolidation of supra-regional socio-political units. This study begins with a comparative analysis of all known great hall complexes, through which evidence is presented for a broad chronological development, paralleling and contributing to the development of Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. The wider context of great hall complexes is then explored through a regional case study, charting the development of socio-economic power in the burials and settlements of the Upper Thames Valley, before situating the great hall complexes within this development. Ultimately, an overarching theoretical explanation is proposed for the emergence, development and abandonment of the great hall complexes, linking these sites with the development of a new elite ideology, the integration of new supra-regional communities and the consolidation of the newly formed Anglo-Saxon kingdoms.
- Archaeopress Archaeology
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