The Age of Sutton Hoo is the 6th to 8th century in north-west Europe. A bit obscure? Not in the least. This is the period that gave us the Europe we have today. It was a melting pot of ideas, a forum of fundamental debate, a time of vigorous political, economic and religious experiment. It is where tribe met state, where barter met coinage and where paganism met Christianity. In the 2000 years that separates Caesar’s invasion of Britain from the creation of European Common Market, these three centuries are virtually the only period when Europeans were free from an overarching ideology. Communities could express their own ideas without infringing orthodoxies. This is why it had such an astonishing diversity of monuments. In this course we will learn to speak the language of monuments and so become party to the debates that underpin the agenda of modern Europe.
The lectures are for team-building, posing the questions and explain why they are worth answering. The seminars answer the questions and the course aims to mould the participants on the course into a research group. Our raw materials are burials, votive deposits, sculpture, cult sites (including monasteries), command sites (including palaces and hillforts), and extravagant gold objects. We shall deconstruct the thinking of the period by taking certain famous sites apart – not excluding Sutton Hoo.
For further details of how seminar presentations work, please see here.
There will be two excursions: Sutton Hoo on 31 October and Bede's World on 7 November.
Martin Carver was Professor of Archaeology at York from 1986 to 2007. He has excavated or led early medieval field projects at Sutton Hoo, Portmahomack, Durham, York, Worcester, and in France, Italy and Algeria.
By the end of the module, you will be able to: