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Landscape and Warfare in Early Medieval Britain

Williams, TJT; (2017) Landscape and Warfare in Early Medieval Britain. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London).

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The study of early medieval conflict landscapes has been largely driven by the traditional research agendas of military historians and battlefield archaeologists who have sought above all to precisely locate battlefields and reconstruct narratives of engagement. The deeply problematic nature of the source material for reliably identifying sites has, however, resulted in the landscape of conflict remaining under-researched and its significance poorly understood. This research project approaches the subject from a different angle and takes its theoretical perspective from anthropological and archaeological approaches that identify symbolic expression in the practice and idea of violence. In particular, interpretations of warfare that regard this activity in purely instrumental/material terms are called into question, and the project seeks to bring the study of organised violence into the orbit of other social phenomena of the early medieval period (assembly, execution, burial, religious practice etc.) that imparted and derived meaning from their landscape contexts. In addressing these issues, this project has quantified the conflict record between 400 and 1016 across much of Britain. Of the 351 conflict events that took place, the majority were pitched battles, and these have been subjected to detailed toponymic analysis to reveal the landscape associations of conflict. In addition, the relationship between written sources and real landscapes is interrogated in relation to a case study focusing on South West England. In the process, this study has sought to bring some clarity to what can be known about the place of battle in this period and to establish a working methodology for studying the relationship between landscape and warfare more widely.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Landscape and Warfare in Early Medieval Britain
Event: UCL (University College London)
Language: English
UCL classification: 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 > Institute of Archaeology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1536190
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