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Excavating Early England - ARC00076M

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  • Department: Archaeology
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Martin Carver
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2018-19

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2018-19

Module aims

Students taking this module study the contribution of archaeological research to the current understanding of early England (500-1000AD).The subject content focuses on the large-scale set piece excavations that have taken place and invites an assessment and critique of their contribution to Anglo-Saxon history and culture. These results are compared with the impact of the discovery of treasures and other kinds of public engagement.

The module is intended to contribute to the learning of those interested in Anglo-Saxon history and culture, those interested in the way excavations are done, those interested in the way history is (or is not) rewritten by archaeology, and those interested in the impact of archaeological investigation on the public.The module hopes to provide an option particularly suitable for those doing Medieval Archaeology, Medieval Studies, Field Archaeology and Heritage Studies, and may be offered as a core module for MA Medieval Archaeology, as an alternative to the Vikings.

Module learning outcomes

  • Knowledge of the great excavations carried out to investigate early England, using about six case studies (examples: Spong Hill, Sutton Hoo, Yeavering, Jarrow, Brandon, Cheddar, York Minster, Stafford).
  • Knowledge of the circumstances and publicity surrounding the discovery of major hoards. (notably Crondall, Staffordshire)
  • Critique of the excavation designs and circumstances of investigation
  • Critical assessment of the contribution of these discoveries to the academic and scientific understanding of early England
  • Critical evaluation of the way professional archaeology, community archaeology, treasure hunting, and the media are contributing to the public understanding of the Anglo-Saxon past.
  • Academic and graduate skills
  • Development of transferable skills in small group work and oral presentations
  • Advance critique of the knowledge transfer system operating in England, using the “English” as the primary discourse.

Other learning outcomes (if applicable)

  • Familiarity with the theories of migration, kingship, conversion and state formation applied to early England

Familiarity with the influence of geography, prehistory, Roman Britain and Roman Christianity on the politics of early England.


Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Module feedback

Formative work:

1. The essay: we aim to return written feedback and the essay itself to the student within c.2 weeks of submission. Verbal feedback will be provided.

Summative work:

1. The essay: written feedback will be returned to the student within 6 weeks of the deadline. The student can make an appointment with the marker to obtain verbal feedback.

Indicative reading

Carver, M O H 2005 Sutton Hoo. A seventh-century princely burial ground and its context (BMP)

Carver M O H 2010 The Birth of a Borough. An archaeological study of Anglo-Saxon Stafford P42.46

Cramp R J 2005, 2006 Wearmouth and Jarrow Monastic Sites (English Heritage) P 42.81

Fairclough, G 2008 The Heritage Reader (London & NY) P1.084

Geake, Helen 1997 The Use of Grave goods in Conversion period England c600-c850 BAR 261 CS1

Hamerow, Helen, David Hinton and Sally Crawford (eds) 2011The Oxford Handbook of Anglo-Saxon Archaeology (Oxford: Oxford University Press) P 42

Hills, C and Lucy S 2013 The Anglo-Saxon Cemetery at Spong Hill: Part IX Chronology and synthesis (Cambridge; MacDonald Institute) P 42.61

Philips D & Brenda Heywood 1995 Excavations at York Minster Vol 1 (HMSO) C 74.274

Rahtz, Philip 1979 The Saxon and Medieval Palaces at Cheddar: excavations 1960-62 (BAR 65) CS 1

Skeates, Robin, McDavid, Carol, Carman, John (eds) 2012 The Oxford handbook of public archaeology (Oxford : Oxford University Press) P 0.1

Tester, A, Ian Riddler & Robert Carr 2014 Staunch Meadow, Brandon, Suffolk (EAA 151) CS1

Webster, Leslie 2012 Anglo-Saxon Art KM L 9.4201

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.