Author: Adam McBride. Paperback; 205x290mm; xvi+350 pages; 228 figures (165 pages in colour). Print RRP (£55.00). 596 2020. Available both in printed and e-versions. Printed ISBN 9781789693874. Epublication ISBN 9781789693881. |
Following the collapse of Roman Britain, early medieval England shows little evidence for complex hierarchy or supra-regional socio-political units for nearly two hundred years, until the turn of the 7th century, when the documented emergence of Anglo-Saxon kingdoms is seemingly confirmed by the sudden appearance of the first high-status settlements – the so-called great hall complexes. This book explores the role of great hall complexes in kingdom formation through an expansive and ambitious study, incorporating new fieldwork, new quantitative methodologies and new theoretical models for the emergence of high-status settlements and the formation and consolidation of supra-regional socio-political units. This study begins with a comparative analysis of all known great hall complexes, through which evidence is presented for a broad chronological development, paralleling and contributing to the development of Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. The wider context of great hall complexes is then explored through a regional case study, charting the development of socio-economic power in the burials and settlements of the Upper Thames Valley, before situating the great hall complexes within this development. Ultimately, an overarching theoretical explanation is proposed for the emergence, development and abandonment of the great hall complexes, linking these sites with the development of a new elite ideology, the integration of new supra-regional communities and the consolidation of the newly formed Anglo-Saxon kingdoms.
About the Author
Adam McBride completed his DPhil in archaeology at the University of Oxford in 2019. During his doctoral studies, Adam collaborated with Helena Hamerow and Jane Harrison on the excavation of a high-status early medieval complex at Long Wittenham, Oxfordshire, UK. Adam previously worked in CRM/commercial archaeology in the Southeast United States, after completing an MPhil at the University of Cambridge.
'Also considering emergent representations of status is Adam McBride’s volume that examines great hall complexes and their role in the formation of Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. The book aims to explain why these complexes were built, their development and the reason for their ultimate abandonment. The methodology is a broad comparative study of great hall complexes with contextual detail focused on the motivations for their construction in particular locations, the life of the complex and how it came to fall out of use (Part I). This is followed in Part II by a case study featuring the Upper Thames Valley that allows analysis of the socio-economic background against which we can see the emergence of supra-regional socio-political units or kingdoms, often marked by the presence of great hall complexes as can be seen at sites such as Yeavering and Long Wittenham.'—Claire Nesbitt, Antiquity, New Book Chronicle, Volume 94, 2020
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