The Material Culture of Daily Living in the Anglo-Saxon World

BookThe Material Culture of Daily Living in the Anglo-Saxon World

The Material Culture of Daily Living in the Anglo-Saxon World

Exeter Studies in Medieval Europe


April 26th, 2013



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This illustrated book introduces serious students of Anglo-Saxon culture to selected aspects of the realities of Anglo-Saxon life through reference to artefacts and textual sources. Everyday practices and processes are investigated, such as the exploitation of animals for clothing, meat, cheese and parchment; ships for travel, trade and transport; manufacturing processes of metalwork; textiles for dress and furnishing and the practicalities of living with illness or disability. Articles collected in this volume illuminate how an understanding of the material culture of the daily Anglo-Saxon world can inform reading and scholarship in Anglo-Saxon studies. Scholarly and practical material presented inform one another, making the book accessible to any reader seriously interested in England in the early Middle Ages.

This volume provides a helpful, clear, and practical overview of the key sites and objects in the Anglo-Saxon repertoire. It will be a valuable introductory textbook to the ways in which a knowledge of the physical evidence can enhance literary and historical readings of the period. The Medieval Review

The Medieval Review, 12.10.34

"The Material Culture of Daily Living in the Anglo-Saxon World is a detailed guide to living the “good life” in Anglo-Saxon England. It is an edited volume of refreshing works that provides a detailed schematic of Anglo-Saxon daily living and the intricacies of everyday tasks. This book highlights activities which may be simple and habitual but which define the traditions and practices of a society.
The book provides a balanced examination of both textual and archaeological evidence on a variety of fundamental topics including dress, illness, trade and production. This cleverly structured text provides an extra dimension of material culture, one that discusses the practices and technologies behind creations. The potential literary gap between the disciplines of archaeology and history is bridged with eloquent and thoughtful prose.
The layout is sophisticated, defined and easy-to-navigate. The structure and content choice are well selected with nicely linked topics. The well-chosen chapter topics playfully and succinctly examine key areas of Anglo-Saxon material culture and daily life, and the editors have used these to create an interesting taster text for the dedicated Anglo-Saxon student."
Rosetta, issue 13

'[The Material Culture of Daily Living in the Anglo-Saxon World] comprises fifteen chapters on animals, plants and ‘things'... and they maintain a high standard. There is much of interest here for specialist as well as general readers.'
John Blair, English Historical Review

Author Information

Maren Clegg Hyer is Professor of English at Valdosta State University (Georgia). Her recent publications include Water and the Environment in the Anglo-Saxon World (ed with Della Hooke, Liverpool, 2017) and Old English Lexicology and Lexicography (ed with Haruko Momma and Samantha Zacher, Boydell, 2020). Gale R. Owen-Crocker is Professor Emerita of The University of Manchester; she was formerly Professor of Anglo-Saxon Culture and Director of the Manchester Centre for Anglo-Saxon Studies. She was co-founder and for 15 years co-editor of the journal Medieval Clothing and Textiles. Her recent books include Clothing the Past: Surviving Garments from Early Medieval to Early Modern Western Europe (with Elizabeth Coatsworth, Brill, 2018) and Making Sense of the Bayeux Tapestry: Readings and Reworkings (with Anna Henderson, Manchester, 2016).

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Cover 1
Title Page4
Copyright Page5
List of illustrations10
1 Introduction: Material Culture and the Study of Anglo-Saxon England14
2 Prelude: Agriculture Through the Year22
3 The True Staff of Life: The Multiple Roles of Plants36
4 Steep Vessel, High Horn-ship: Water Transport62
5 ‘To eat, to wear, to work’: The Place of Sheep and Cattle in the Economy86
6 Devil’s Crafts and Dragon’s Skins? Sheaths, Shoes and Other Leatherwork106
7 Chanting upon a Dunghill: Working Skeletal Materials129
8 Earth’s Treasures: Food and Drink155
9 Woven Works: Making and Using Textiles170
10 Weland’s Work: Metals and Metalsmiths198
11 ‘Seldom … does the deadly spear rest for long’: Weapons and Armour214
12 Things of This World: Portable Antiquities and Their Potential244
13 Sight, Insight and Hand: Some Reflections on the Designand Manufacture of the Fuller Brooch271
14 The Bright Cup: Early Medieval Vessel Glass288
15 Body and Soul: Disease and Impairment306
Suggested Reading381
List of contributors398