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none Word or Phrase:Saxon, Migration or Early Medieval  
Definition:About 410 AD to 1066 AD (the 5th century AD to the 11th century AD)

The Saxon period comes after the Roman period and before the Medieval period.

Archaeologists divide this period up in to the Early Saxon period (sometimes called the Migration period, about 410 AD to 800 AD) and the Late Saxon period (sometimes called the Early Medieval period, about 800AD to 1065 AD).[more]

This period is sometimes called the Dark Ages. This is because, when compared with some other periods there is much less archaeological evidence for how people lived. This is largely because of the materials that the Saxons used to build their houses and make their belongings.
They lived in wooden houses with thatched rooves. wood and thatch are organic materials that decay, so archaeologists do not find them very often during their excavations.
Compared to the Romans, who built large towns with substantial buildings with walls made from stone, Saxon remains are much less common. Saxon pottery does not survive well either. This is because it was made by mixing the clay with sand, grass or shell, which made it crumbly.

As the Romans left Britain to return to other parts of the empire, those who stayed behind were absorbed into the British culture. As Roman influence over the way of life gradually faded a new wave of immigrants, the Anglo Saxons, began to arrive in Britain. Their arrival is marked by a change in religion, burial practices, artistic styles and the types of house that they lived in.

Documentary evidence shows that Warwickshire was divided between two kingdoms during the early Saxon period. North and east Warwickshire was part of the territory of the South Mercians. South-west Warwickshire fell into the kingdom of the Hwicce.

During the 8th and 9th centuries the kingdom of Mercia grew, absorbing surrounding kingdoms such as Hwicce, to become on of the largest and most important in Britain. It was during the late 8th century that Offa ruled the kingdom of Mercia. After he died in 796 AD Mercian power began to fade.

A second wave of invaders, this time from Norway and Denmark, started to attack the coasts of Britain from 787 onwards. By the winter of 872, Danish headquarters had been set up in London. Parts of Britain were ruled by the Danes under the Danelaw, including a large part of Mercia. King Alfred the Great was able to make a treaty with the Danish king in 886. The eastern part of the country, however, remained under Danish control until 1042, with Watling Street forming the boundary between the Danelaw and what remained of Mercia.


In Warwickshire, a number of Anglo Saxon cemeteries have been found, including those excavated at Wasperton and Bidford upon Avon. Fewer Saxon Settlements have been found but a site near Hatton Rock might be the remains of a high status Settlement or palace. Archaeological evidence from other parts of England suggests that during the 7th century the population increased and the number of Settlements grew. At about the same time the Saxons started to live in different locations to that which their ancestors had lived. This might be because they decided to move to areas that had better agricultural land. This change in Settlement patterns is called the ‘Middle Saxon Shift’.

towns and Villages
In the 9th and early 10th centuries the Saxons reorganised their defences and built a number of fortified towns, or burhs. Documentary evidence indicates that Warwick was one such burh. Although archaeologists have yet to find the exact line of the Saxon town’s defences, excavations have revealed evidence for late Saxon occupation at the Woolpack.

It is probable that, as the population increased throughout the Saxon period, the scattered farmsteads grew into Villages. Land charters show that by the 10th century some manors, such as those at Alvest

period Word or Phrase:Post Medieval  
Definition:About 1540 AD to 1750 AD (the 16th century AD to the 18th century AD)

The Post Medieval period comes after the medieval period and before the Imperial period.

This period covers the second half of the reign of the Tudors (1485 – 1603), the reign of the Stuarts (1603 – 1702) and the beginning of the reign of the Hannoverians (1714 – 1836).[more]

In the early part of the Post Medieval period the population of the country was increasing and towns started to grow in size. People still built their houses as they had done during the medieval period, with timber frames and thatched roofs. These types of houses still survive in some towns in Warwickshire, such as Henley in Arden.

In 1694 a huge fire swept through Warwick, destroying two of the town’s main streets and large parts of St Mary’s Church. As a result of this, and fires elsewhere, regulations were brought in about new buildings. They had to be built in brick with tile roofs.

This period also saw changes to the countryside as a result of an increase in the population. These changes were largely a result of new systems of farming that were introduced in order to produce the larger yields of crops needed to feed the growing population. The most notable change to the appearance of the landscape was the enclosing of the open fields with boundaries. Private Acts of Parliament were needed in order for the fields to be enclosed, hence the name ‘parliamentary enclosure’ given to this type of field pattern.

This period also saw the rise of the country house, sometimes called ‘prodigious’ or ‘prodigy’ houses. The development of these large country houses really began during the late medieval period under Henry VIII but it reached its peak during the Elizabethan era (1558 to 1603). These houses were usually large enough to accommodate the entire king or queen’s court whilst it was travelling around the country as well as other aristocratic travellers. The houses are often characterised by their symmetrical layout, decorative chimneys, large windows and the use of columns and arches. Built mainly of brick or stone, the country houses were surrounded by gardens and parks, making up large estates. Together, the houses and their grounds reflect the huge wealth of a small number of English families in this period. Warwickshire examples include Compton Wynyates house and Charlecote Hall, both originally built during the Tudor period, and Packington Hall and Upton house, both built during the reign of the Stuarts.

Some of the major events in English history that took place in this period have connections with Warwickshire.

In 1605 there was an attempt to blow up parliament. The gunpowder that was intended to cause the explosion was discovered in the cellars below the house of Lords. The men who organised the Gunpowder Plot are supposed to have waited in a house in Dunchurch to hear whether the plot had worked. It was in this house that they heard that Guy Fawkes had been arrested. The building is now known as Guy Fawkes house.

The first battle of the English Civil War took place at Edge Hill, in the south of the county, in 1642. The battle was between the Royalists (also known as Cavaliers) who supported King Charles I (1625 – 1649) and the Parliamentarians (also known as the Roundheads).

The Civil War started because Charles and his troops attempted to attack Scotland because they would not accept his reforms to the Scottish Church. Parliament did not support this attack on Scotland and so Charles dismissed Parliament. The attack on Scotland was unsuccessful, however, and Charles was forced to recall Parliament.
Tensions between Charles and Parliament remained high. When Charles’ troops were unsuccessful in trying to arrest five members of Parliament in January 1642 the king left London. Both he and parliament began to stockpile military resources and parliament began to stockpile military resources and recruit troops.

At the Battle of Edgehill, The Royalists gathered on the top of the hill with about 14,000 troops. The Parliamentarians camped at the bottom of the hill, near Kineton, with a similar number of men. The Cavaliers attacked the Parliamentarians first but as the battle went on it became more and more disorganised as the soldiers gradually became exhausted. Eventually, the fighting stopped and the two armies parted. Neither side really won the battle.

A large number of musket balls and the odd canon ball have been found at the battlefield site. There are two mounds in the area of the battlefield that may be where the dead soldiers were buried. The battlefield of Edgehill is a Registered Battlefield.

Other connections with the Civil War can be found in Warwickshire, for example, at Compton Wynyates house. The house was seized and occupied by the Parliamentarians. The owner unsuccessfully tried to recapture the house in 1644, during which it suffered a great deal of damage.

period Word or Phrase:Medieval  
Definition:1066 AD to 1539 AD (the 11th century AD to the 16th century AD)

The medieval period comes after the Saxon period and before the post medieval period.

The medieval period begins in 1066 AD.
This was the year that the Normans, led by William the Conqueror (1066 – 1087), invaded England and defeated Harold Godwinson at the Battle of Hastings in East Sussex.
The medieval period includes the first half of the Tudor period (1485 – 1603 AD), when the Tudor family reigned in England and eventually in Scotland too.

The end of the medieval period is marked by Henry VIII’s (1509 – 1547) order for the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the years running up to 1539 AD. The whole of this period is sometimes called the Middle Ages.[more]

The Normans are well known for building the first motte and bailey castles. There are a number of these in Warwickshire. Brinklow castle and Boteler’s castle, near Alcester, are fine examples. Warwick castle and Kenilworth castle began their long histories as motte and bailey castles.

The Domesday Book was written in the reign of William the Conqueror. It was completed in about 1086 AD.
It is a detailed statement of lands held by the king and his tenants and of the resources that went with those lands, for example which manors belonged to which estates.
Domesday Book was probably put together so that William knew how much tax he was getting from the country. It provides archaeologists and historians with a detailed picture of the size of Settlements and the population at the beginning of the medieval period. Many of these Settlements were later deserted as a result of a number of causes, including changes to land tenure. In other cases the focal point of Settlements physically shifted. Either way, Warwickshire is well known for the contrast in types of Settlement between the Arden area of the north west and the Feldon area of the south and east. In the Arden area medieval Settlements were of the small, dispersed type, whilst in the Feldon area the Settlements developed into nucleated villages. Some medieval deserted settlements in Warwickshire can still be traced as earthworks. A good example exists at Wormleighton.

Traces of medieval farming survive in many parts of Warwickshire as earthworks of ridge and furrow cultivation. ridge and furrow earthworks show where the land was ploughed so that crops could be grown. The ridges and furrows formed because successive years of ploughing caused the soil to be drawn up into ridges whilst the furrows lying between them became deeper. The fields were ploughed using a team of oxen pulling a small plough, which was very difficult to turn. This accounts for why the land was ploughed in long strips and why fields were left open i.e. without hedges, fences or walls dividing up the land into smaller pockets.

farms were much smaller in the medieval period. The people who farmed the land did not own it. The land belonged to the lord of the manor. The people farming the land were simply tenants who worked a strip of land or maybe several strips. This is why medieval farming is sometimes called strip farming.

At the time that Domesday Book was written the only Town in what is now called Warwickshire was Warwick. Documentary evidence shows us that as the years went on more and more markets appeared in the county. By 1450 there were forty.

The Towns that grew around the markets were different from the surrounding villages in their appearance and the type of people who lived in them. They were larger than the villages and had a more complicated network of streets and lanes. The Towns had an open space in the centre where a market was held each week. The houses and workshops that lined the streets had long narrow strips of land behind them called tenements. Some historic maps show these medieval build

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