Thursday, September 8, 2011

Wood and stone

Via The Medieval Review (a listserv) I came across two books I want.

The Landscape Archaeology of Anglo-Saxon England, ed. Nicholas Higham and Martin Ryan sounds like just the stuff I'll need for the second Hild novel:

This volume is one of two resulting from a conference on the Landscape of Anglo-Saxon England held in 2007 at the Manchester Centre for Anglo-Saxon Studies. It contains twelve articles above all dealing with archaeological and art historical evidence, while the second volume Place-Names, Language and the Anglo-Saxon Landscape, published in March 2011, contains articles based on textual and place-name evidence. Volume one addresses a number of fundamental questions regarding Anglo-Saxon landscape organisation
The opening chapter, written by Nicholas Higham, provides an overview of research into Anglo-Saxon landscape and settlement studies and how views on this have changed over time... It also sets the scene for the current volume and its individual contributions, as Higham takes the reader through key themes of the volume, such as Woodland, Village and Farm and Fields.

The next paper, which discusses the usage of coppiced wood and its importance in Anglo-Saxon society, is written by Christopher Grocock. This stimulating contribution is above all based on experimental archaeology carried out at Bede's World in Northumbria. The chapter makes it clear the large amounts of experience and knowledge have been lost over time and also convincingly demonstrates just how significant wood management was for the Anglo-Saxon economy...

You know how obsessed I am with wood/s. I've already built in a lot of stuff about wood management (all stuff I figured out myself), but I'd love to check in with the experts and see if I was right. So, I want this. And the second volume. But, oof, $99 is an insane price for 231 pages--especially 231 pages of articles that, according to the review, don't refer to each other at all.

The other book, Britain After Rome: The Fall and Rise, 400-1070, by Robin Fleming, sounds even more interesting:

Britain After Rome explicitly makes a significant historiographic argument in favor of material culture over narrative sources...offers a single author's integration of the fragmentary material and documentary sources, painstakingly accumulated over decades of study, with particular attention paid to the wealth of recent archaeological information not often well used by historians trained primarily in narrative sources. Archaeologists are notoriously disdainful of written sources, while historians tend to mine archaeological reports selectively to fit bits of evidence into their narratives, a pattern hard to break. Fleming has succeeded by writing from within the material evidence first, then weaving in the narrative sources as contrast or support, the same way one would with documentary sources like charters.
[T]he emphasis on the physical... The result of this combined expertise is perhaps one of the clearest explanations of the emergence of elite families in post-Roman Britain and their changing relationships to the majority of the populace in rural and nascent urban areas. Although the geographic focus is primarily on the zones affected by Anglo-Saxon migration, due attention is paid to regional differences between eastern and western Britain, as well as the complex dynamics between British and "English" newcomers.

So I really want this this. And it's cheaper: 'only' $35 for 458 pages. Perhaps I'll treat myself when this round of Hild is done.

Anglo-Saxons were people of the wood. They made everything from it: cups, spades, dishes, houses. But after they converted, they began to carve stone. This is a recreation of a stone chair from Northumbria, circa 800 CE. Those lovely patterns were born from the expertise of wood carvers.

To me it looks rather throne-like. Read more about it here.

This blog has moved. My blog now lives here: