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Land, people and power in early medieval Wales: the cantref of Cemais in comparative perspective

Comeau, Rhiannon; (2019) Land, people and power in early medieval Wales: the cantref of Cemais in comparative perspective. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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This study examines the structure of the early medieval Welsh landscape. Using a cantref (hundred) in south-west Wales as a case study, it draws on a multidisciplinary, comparative analysis to overcome the limits imposed by restricted material culture survival and limited written sources. It examines the patterns of power and habitual activity that defined spaces and structured lives, and considers the temporal relationships, both seasonal and longue durée, that shaped them. Four key findings are presented. Firstly, that key areas of early medieval life – agriculture, tribute-payment, legal processes and hunting – were structured by a longstanding seasonal patterning that is preserved in twelfth- and thirteenth-century Welsh law, church and well dedications and fair dates. Secondly it presents, at cantref level, the first systematic survey of assembly site evidence in Wales, and sets it in comparative context. Thirdly, it demonstrates that, though poor material culture preservation and limited written records have hitherto restricted identification and characterisation of key locations in the early medieval Welsh landscape, a multidisciplinary dataset allows effective identification of focal zones through indicators known from other areas of north-west Europe. Fourthly, the widely-used ‘multiple estate model’ is found to be an inadequate descriptor of the early medieval Welsh landscape. An alternative approach is proposed. Methodologically, it demonstrates the value of a multidisciplinary approach, especially the systematic use of place-names which is novel in a Welsh context. It also provides key resources for other researchers by geolocating pre-1700 place-names from a previously published survey; creating GIS resources (polygons and geolocated databases) from the 1840s tithe map and schedules for parishes in its detailed case study areas; and providing a geolocated database of 16th-century demesne and Welsh-law landholdings in the cantref.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Land, people and power in early medieval Wales: the cantref of Cemais in comparative perspective
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2019. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/ by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10076045
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