Settlement Hierarchy

Katharina Ulmschneider

in The Oxford Handbook of Anglo-Saxon Archaeology

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199212149
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Archaeology

 Settlement Hierarchy

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  • Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Archaeology


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This article concentrates on determining some of the areas of debate in the Anglo-Saxon settlement hierarchy, reviews current approaches, and suggests which areas may warrant exploration in the future. The picture of social hierarchy being closely reflected in the archaeological record holds. One of the most important changes that have been recognized in the mid Saxon period is the great expansion in different settlement and site types. Social ranking may not have been the only factor influencing and shaping the mid Saxon settlement hierarchy. The current picture gained from archaeological and literary sources would suggest that, towards the late Saxon period, social hierarchy was once more clearly reflected in the settlement record, with kings visibly wielding a much tighter control over the landscape, economy, and people. At the other end of the hierarchy, this would also appear to hold true for the peasant class.

Keywords: Anglo-Saxon settlement hierarchy; social hierarchy; social ranking; Saxon period; site types; landscape; economy

Article.  6158 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Archaeology

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