HIST 246: The Material World of the Anglo-Saxons explores the world of Anglo-Saxon England through the lens of material culture. The Anglo-Saxon period of English history comprises the roughly 600 years between the withdrawal of the Roman army from Britain c. 410 CE and the Norman Conquest of 1066. These centuries saw massive changes in the material aspects of daily life, as the urban creature comforts of Roman civilization gave way first to the scattered rural subsistence farms of Germanic immigrants in the so-called Dark Ages and then to a revival of trade and urbanism under the aegis of increasingly powerful later Anglo-Saxon kings and their viking antagonists. It also witnessed seismic shifts in religious customs, as Roman Christianity and indigenous pagan traditions competed for the hearts and minds of England’s inhabitants. All of these developments left material traces in the English landscape and archaeological record, which this course aims to investigate.
The goal of HIST 246: The Material World of the Anglo-Saxons is to impart to students an understanding and appreciation of how material culture is discovered, interpreted, complicated, and how the modern historian may use recreations and digital methods to further understand material culture.
Over the course of the term, students participated in many in-class hands-on demonstrations and activities, including rune carving, funerary urn construction, photogrammetry and a comparison of physical and digital building blocks.
The contents of this site come from student projects and experiences in HIST 246, taught at Carleton College, Spring 2018 by professor Austin Mason.