I am currently a researcher on the ERC-funded Feeding Anglo-Saxon England project (FeedSax), researching the agricultural 'revolution' that powered a demographic explosion in early medieval England. I work on the archaeobotanical side of the project, examining charred plant macrofossils and applying statistical analyses to the findings. I am also responsible for the digital aspects of the project, including the website and database. My previous research focused upon an earlier agricultural transition in Anglo-Saxon England, between the seventh and ninth centuries AD. I also currently serve as Treasurer on the Association for Environmental Archaeology committee.
An Integrated Bioarchaeological Approach to the Medieval ‘Agricultural Revolution’: A Case Study from Stafford, England, c.ad 800–1200
Hamerow, H, Bogaard, A, Charles, M, Forster, E, Holmes, M, McKerracher, M, Neil, S, Ramsey, CB, Stroud, E, Thomas, R
European Journal of Archaeology
<jats:p>In much of Europe, the advent of low-input cereal farming regimes between <jats:italic>c.</jats:italic><jats:sc>ad</jats:sc> 800 and 1200 enabled landowners—lords—to amass wealth by greatly expanding the amount of land under cultivation and exploiting the labour of others. Scientific analysis of plant remains and animal bones from archaeological contexts is generating the first direct evidence for the development of such low-input regimes. This article outlines the methods used by the FeedSax project to resolve key questions regarding the ‘cerealization’ of the medieval countryside and presents preliminary results using the town of Stafford as a worked example. These indicate an increase in the scale of cultivation in the Mid-Saxon period, while the Late Saxon period saw a shift to a low-input cultivation regime and probably an expansion onto heavier soils. Crop rotation appears to have been practised from at least the mid-tenth century.</jats:p>
Feeding Anglo-Saxon England: the bioarchaeology of an agricultural revolution
Hamerow, H, Bogaard, A, Charles, M, Ramsey, C, Thomas, R, Forster, E, Holmes, M, McKerracher, M, Neil, S, Stroud, E
Anglo-Saxon, Middle Ages, cereal, agriculture
Anglo-Saxon Crops and Weeds
There is a growing recognition within Anglo-Saxon archaeology that farming practices underwent momentous transformations in the Mid Saxon period, between the seventh and ninth centuries AD: transformations which underpinned the growth of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms and, arguably, set the trajectory for English agricultural development for centuries to come. Meanwhile, in the field of archaeobotany, a growing set of quantitative methods has been developed to facilitate the systematic investigation of agricultural change through the study of charred plant remains. This study applies a standardised set of repeatable quantitative analyses to the charred remains of Anglo-Saxon crops and weeds, to shed light on crucial developments in crop husbandry between the seventh and ninth centuries. The analyses demonstrate the significance of the Anglo-Saxon archaeobotanical record in elucidating how greater crop surpluses were attained through ecologically-sensitive diversification and specialisation strategies in this period. At the same time, assumptions, variables and key parameters are presented fully and explicitly to facilitate repetition of the work, thus also enabling the book to be used as a source of comparative data and a methodological handbook for similar research in other periods and places. It constitutes a specialist, data-driven companion volume to the author’s more general narrative account published as Farming Transformed in Anglo-Saxon England (Windgather, 2018).