New book throws light on Middle Saxon Shift in East Sussex

6/1/11 .-

The later Anglo-Saxon settlement at Bishopstone: a downland manor in the making by Gabor Thomas is the latest CBA Research report (no 163) to be published.

Bishopstone cover Well known for the Early Anglo-Saxon settlement previously excavated on Rookery Hill and its impressive pre-Conquest church, Bishopstone has entered archaeological orthodoxy as a classic example of a ‘Middle Saxon Shift’.

This new volume reports on the excavations from 2002 to 2005 designed to investigate this transition, with the focus on the origins of Bishopstone village. Excavations adjacent to St Andrew’s churchyard revealed a dense swathe of later Anglo-Saxon (8th- to late 10th-/early 11th-century) habitation, including a planned complex of ‘timber halls’, and a unique cellared tower. The occupation encroached upon a pre-Conquest cemetery of 43 inhumations.

The report provides a comprehensive analysis, interpretation and academic contextualisation of the archaeological discoveries brought to light by these excavations, the first to sample a later Anglo-Saxon rural settlement in East Sussex on an extensive scale. The inter-disciplinary approach appraises the historical and topographical evidence alongside that recovered during the excavations.

The result is a uniquely informative picture of the emergence and operation of an estate-centre complex in the later Anglo-Saxon landscape, an embodiment of the growth of an increasingly stable and hierarchical settlement pattern which laid the foundations for the English countryside.

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