Article

Overview: Anglo‐Saxon Identity

Catherine Hills

in The Oxford Handbook of Anglo-Saxon Archaeology

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199212149
Published online September 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199212149.013.0001

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Archaeology

Overview: Anglo‐Saxon Identity

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The first part of this text reflects on an emphasis on periods of interface — between the Anglo-Saxons and Britons, Scandinavians (Vikings) and Normans — rather than on periods such as the seventh and eighth centuries when identity seems to have related less to an overall Anglo-Saxon ethnicity and more to membership of family or tribe, Christian or pagan, elite or peasant. Archaeological interpretation has undergone as drastic a phase of rethinking as historical. More anthropological awareness amongst archaeologists has cast doubt on the idea of ‘culture’ and has shown that ethnicity is a very complex concept. The identities of the peoples who lived in Britain in the past varied regionally and chronologically. The archaeological evidence does not show a change of identity: most of what has been seen as ‘Medieval England’ was in place long before the Conquest.

Keywords: Anglo-Saxon identity; Anglo-Saxons; Britons; Scandinavians; Normans; Anglo-Saxon ethnicity; Medieval England; Conquest

Article.  4399 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Archaeology

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