The Mercian Archaeology Project (MAP) has been initiated in order to confront one of the most difficult and enigmatic archaeological contexts in the UK, the heartlands of the early-medieval kingdom of Mercia in the West Midlands. This is a region where the absence of a recognisable material culture or field archaeology has significantly hampered any form of research advances, despite the best efforts of many leading archaeologist over the past 50 years. This absence has been thrown into sharp contrast by the recent ‘Staffordshire Hoard’ discovery, for which the discipline of archaeology has only been able to provide the scantest of backgrounds.
This project aims to rederess this situation by moving away from an excavation-centred methodology, toward an integrated survey approach. By focusing on the intensive and dynamic application of nonexcavation survey techniques, the project will develop models of settlement and landscape use, as well as their sampling potential. By grounding theses results in the context of the prehistoric and Romano-British inheritance of this region, as well as the influence of Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian culture, this study will provide a pivotal move forward in the study of the Mercian heartland, a kingdom that the eminent historian Frank Stenton saw as the embryonic core of the polity that would become England.
Steve Ashby, Dept of Archaeology, University of York steve.ashby ATyork.ac.uk