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Metallurgy in the gloaming: non-ferrous metalwork from three early Anglo-Saxon cemeteries at RAF Lakenheath, Suffolk

Nicholas, Matthew ORCID: 2016. Metallurgy in the gloaming: non-ferrous metalwork from three early Anglo-Saxon cemeteries at RAF Lakenheath, Suffolk. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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In the late 1990s Suffolk County Council Archaeology Service (now Suffolk Archaeology) began a series of excavations in advance of construction work at the US Air Force base RAF Lakenheath (Eriswell, Suffolk). During the course of this work three substantial Early Anglo-Saxon cemeteries (dated from 475 to 650 CE) were excavated. These sites are some of the largest and best preserved Anglo-Saxon cemeteries excavated in modern times. Many of the inhumations were furnished. Amongst the host of grave goods were approximately 800 non-ferrous metal objects. This presented a significant opportunity to examine Early Anglo-Saxon non-ferrous metallurgy. Previous studies of Early Anglo-Saxon non-ferrous artefacts have tended to focus on acquiring quantitative data using invasive sampling on specific (predominantly cast) object types. The data from these small subsets of objects were then extrapolated to create an interpretation of the technological and metallurgical skills of the era. As this tended to exclude sheet metal objects and the more utilitarian metalwork it is suggested by the author here that this approach is not representative and leaves something to be desired. In this study it was decided to focus on producing a broad data set that, whilst being qualitative, would allow broad trends in alloy composition to be assessed (if present) against a variety of variables. Data was predominantly acquired using handheld portable X-ray fluorescence (HHpXRF). The results showed that the usage of copper and silver alloys in the Early Anglo-Saxon period is more complex than has previously been suggested. It is thought that this is predominantly linked to decisions regarding an object’s manufacturing technique, but there is also evidence to suggest that elements of cultural identity may have also had a role to play. There is also evidence for continuity of practice between the late Romano- British and Early Anglo-Saxon periods.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Uncontrolled Keywords: Anglo-Saxon, post-Roman, portable X-ray Fluorescence (pXRF), Archaeometallurgy, non-ferrous alloys
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 23 May 2016
Last Modified: 01 Nov 2022 10:20

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