Coastal societies, exchange and identity along the Channel and southern North Sea shores of Europe, AD 600–1000

Abstract

This paper explores the functioning of coastal societies against the background of the changing role of coastal ‘contact zones’ on both sides of the Channel and southern North Sea region, between AD 600 and 1100. In so doing, it reassesses aspects of the generalising frameworks of interpretation applied over the past quarter of a century in favour of a more contextual approach, enabled by long known (although sometimes forgotten) and recent archaeological discoveries, together with new geological research. Regional and local complexity is a recurrent feature. A revolutionary increase in our awareness of the extent to which marginal coastal landscapes were occupied and exploited is matched by a commensurate increase in our knowledge of the number and complexity of settlements and seasonally used sites, involved in maritime exchange networks. Ultimately, this contribution confronts the dynamism of regional coastal societies with the wider socio-political structures in which they were incorporated.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    The archaeological survey work has been conducted through the ‘Leffinge medieval settlement and landscape pilot survey project’ in 2002, funded primarily by the University of Southampton and the British Academy, with additional funding from the province of West Flanders, the Free University of Brussels and the IAP Vlaanderen; and by follow-up survey in 2003 as part of the ACI-Techniques, Terrain, Théories project, funded by the IAP Vlaanderen, CNRS-University of Tours—Laboratoire Archéologie et territories, and the British Academy. Only results from the Leffinge pilot project of 2002, and pottery analyses completed prior to the ACI project are discussed here.

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Acknowledgments

Chris Loveluck would like to acknowledge the support provided by a British Academy postdoctoral research fellowship and a British Academy Small Grant for the funding of this research. Sincere thanks must also go to the University of Southampton for funding the majority of the research undertaken during the Leffinge Pilot project, and grateful thanks are also extended to Dr Marnix Pieters, Glenn Gevaert, the Province of West Flanders, and the community of Middelkerke.

Dries Tys would like to acknowledge the support provided by the Research Foundation-Flanders research assistant-mandate and postdoctoral research fellowship and the support by Brussels Free University (VUB). Thanks also go to Dr Marnix Pieters from the Flemish Heritage Institute for all his support and friendship in our joint research in the Flemish coastal plain; Prof Dr C. Baeteman for sharing her insights with us and special thanks go to my promotor, Prof Dr F. Verhaeghe for his everlasting inspiration.

We are also very grateful to Antwerp City Council and Johan Veckman for providing Figure 3, and to Penny Copeland for producing the location maps.

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Loveluck, C., Tys, D. Coastal societies, exchange and identity along the Channel and southern North Sea shores of Europe, AD 600–1000. J Mari Arch 1, 140–169 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11457-006-9007-x

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Keywords

  • Europe
  • Southern North Sea
  • English Channel
  • Emporia
  • Coastal identities