A study of urban trans-location in early medieval England: occupation identities in Saxon London c770-1020
London is the political, administrative and economic heart of the nation. How and why did London develop such significance and authority, and when did its development diverge from that of other early medieval towns? My research explores whether archaeologically-attested occupation identities can help identify the origins of the city’s character and status, and in turn highlight broader issues of the trajectories of urban growth.
I focus on the archaeological representation of mundane lived experiences in Middle and Late Saxon London, Westminster and Southwark. Syntheses and analyses of recorded archaeological features and assemblages are used to help identify when, where and how urban identities in London changed from 770-1020. Using this evidence I seek to identify the building blocks of the daily life of the population, highlighting archaeological identities that differentiate between the nature of occupation across time and space. Evidence of everyday lives reveals that individuals, objects and structures interacted within a dynamic and archaeologically accessible social assembly that did not emerge as a predetermined homogenous response to social development or administrative structures but as the unintended consequence of numerous individual causes, actions and experiences. The identification of urban occupation identities is, then, the starting point for investigating how and why a broadly undifferentiated Middle Saxon trading settlement evolved into the foremost urban settlement in England.