Towns, tenements and buildings: aspects of medieval urban archaeology and geography

Baker, Nigel (1990) Towns, tenements and buildings: aspects of medieval urban archaeology and geography. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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This thesis will argue that the most effective way of understanding the physical development of medieval towns, particularly the larger, more complex, towns and those which lack extensive and detailed contemporary documentation is by a structured integration of the data derived from the archaeological investigation of individual sites with detailed town-plan analyses following the methodology introduced and developed by Conzen. This will be demonstrated by two case-studies, designed to explore the Interaction of the different sources of evidence at two different scales of investigation.

The first case-study is a detailed analysis of the plan and development of the whole of a large medieval town,(Worcester), the second is a study of a single street (Pride Hill) in Shrewsbury. The analysis of Worcester illuminates, in particular, the boundaries and internal layout of the late 9th-century burh, suggesting that it was an extension to the pre-existing Roman earthwork circuit and incorporated an area subject to regular town planning, possibly following Wessex models, and an area of irregular settlement that included the bishop of Worcester's haga recorded in 904. The defences were, it is argued, partly dismantled for the extension of urban settlement.

The Shrewsbury case-study examines an unusually concentrated building pattern of halls behind the street frontage, and sets this in its contemporary context by an analysis of the contemporary plot-pattern, identified in part by its association with surveyed medieval undercrofts. The earlier history of the area is explored through further analysis of the plot-pattern which predates and is cut by the town wall. It is suggested that the area in question was, like other sectors of the early medieval urban fringe, possibly subject to some type of regular land-allotment for grazing and access to the riverbank.

Issues, illustrating the mutually-illuminating character of town plan analysis and urban archaeology, arising from the two case-studies, are discussed. These include the role of archaeology in reconstructing morphological change, the problems of the chronology of urban extensions, archaeology and the interpretation of cartographically-recorded features, and the role of plan-analysis in establishing a contemporary spatial context for individual and multiple archaeological investigations in early medieval towns.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Keywords: medieval urban archaeology, mediaeval urban archaeology, mediaeval town planning, medieval town planning, Worcester, Shrewsbury
Subjects: D History - General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of Humanities
Item ID: 11087
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 26 Jan 2010 09:47
Last Modified: 14 Sep 2016 01:41

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