Aspects of Saxo-Norman London 2: finds and environmental evidence

Alan Vince (ed)   Download (91 MB)


In the late 9th century the centre of settlement in London was moved, almost certainly by royal instigation, from the undefended wic along the Strand into the walls of the Roman city. The growth of London in the 10th and 11th centuries was phenomenal and by the middle of the 11th century the town was a thriving port with contacts in Scandinavia, the Rhineland and Northern France.

In this volume various studies of finds and environmental evidence from sites within the walled city and dating between the late 9th and mid 12th centuries are presented. The first of the eight unequal parts is a brief essay on the nature of the deposits from which the evidence was derived.

A corpus of Saxon pottery from the City of London is presented in Part 2, together with the reasoning behind the chronological framework which underlies most of the other papers. Furthermore, by combining petrological analysis with a study of pottery from contemporary sites in the surrounding countryside it has been possible to establish the source, or source area, of much of the City’s pottery.

Small finds composed of antler, bone, copper alloy, fired clay, glass, iron, ivory, lead, leather, stone and wood are considered in Part 3. All stratified 10th and 11th-century small finds are included here, except those from sites where no stratigraphic data was available. The leatherwork is of particular interest since there is sufficient of it to extend the sequence of styles and techniques previously established for the 12th to 15th centuries back to the 10th century.

Recent excavations have yielded relatively few Saxon or Norman coins, but the study of earlier finds and the comparison of coins from within the walled area with coins from the surrounding area is crucial to the interpretation of the pottery and other finds. An essay and illustrated catalogue of these coin finds is therefore included here as Part 4, while a companion paper on associated lead pieces postulates that these objects were used in some way as receipts for toll.

The problems of residuality and contamination which affect the studies of pottery and small finds also affect botanical remains and are considered in Part 5. Despite these problems the value of the study of botanical remains from London can be demonstrated. In Part 5.ii a study of the absolute frequency of parasite eggs within a deposit has shown that it is possible to differentiate between deposits which are composed almost entirely from decomposed human cess, those which contain an appreciable cess content and those with other, incidental, constituents.

In Part 6 the preliminary results of a study of late Saxon crucibles is presented. It demonstrates that Stamford ware crucibles were preferred to those from other sources, especially for the melting of silver.

In Part 7 two short reports on scientific dating of late Saxon deposits, using dendrochronology and archaeomagnetism respectively, are published.

Finally, in Part 8, the topographic and functional development of London from the late Roman period to the Norman Conquest is summarised, using information both from this and from the preceding volume, Aspects of Saxo-Norman London 1: building and street development. The main concern of this paper is to establish the archaeological context of Saxon finds from within the walls of the City, although in order to do this it is necessary to look outside the walls.

Following the printed report are microfiche on which will be found site by site reports enabling the user to relate stratigraphy, pottery, small finds and environmental data from a deposit.

[ Special Paper 12 (1991); abstract as published]