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The Anglo-Saxon Agricultural Revolution in Norfolk

14 November 2020

Sponsored by the North West Norfolk History Society

A day online conference to mark the 25th anniversary of the Sedgeford Historical and Archaeological Research Project.


Access to the conference is free but we would very grateful of any donations to SHARP which will enable us to continue our research at Sedgeford. You can donate to the project by using the Donate button below.

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The Programme (Live-Stream)

Sedgeford has emerged as a major site for investigating the agricultural revolution of ‘the long 8th century’. This period, between c. AD 650 and 850, saw the consolidation of kingdoms, the rise of the Church, the creation of great estates, an agricultural transformation based on heavy ploughs, open fields, and nucleated villages, and the development of emporia, craftwork, and long-distance trade in prestige goods. 


It was a new world of wealth, power, and connections; a world of landlords and warlords, merchants and monks, free men and serfs. It represented the emergence of the medieval order from the ‘dark ages’ following the fall of the Western Roman Empire. 


What is increasingly clear is that changes in eastern Britain mirrored changes in the Carolingian Empire, especially in the coastal zones of north-west Europe. The North Sea, with its ready access to other seas and to estuaries and navigable rivers, was a busy highway for military, economic, and cultural interaction between communities located around the coastal fringe or on connected waterways. 


This day conference will review the results of 25 years’ work at Sedgeford in the context of new discoveries and changing ideas about the Mid Anglo-Saxon period in a) Norfolk, b) England as a whole, and c) the wider contemporary world.



Chair: John Jolleys, Chair, Sedgeford Historical and Archaeological Research Project

Session 1: Middle Anglo-Saxon Sedgeford

This session will report, summarise, and interpret the evidence from 25 years of excavations on Middle Anglo-Saxon sites at Sedgeford. 


Lecture 1 - 9.45-10.25am

A Middle Anglo-Saxon Malting Complex

Dr Eleanor Blakelock

Deputy-Director of Excavations, SHARP


Lecture 2 - 10.30-11.05am

‘For a quart of ale is a dish for a king’: malting, brewing, and beer in Middle Anglo-Saxon Sedgeford and beyond

Ms Hannah Caroe

Archaeo-environmental Supervisor, SHARP, and University of Oxford


Lecture 3 - 11.25-12.05am

An Early Medieval Landscape Transformed 

Dr Neil Faulkner

Director of Excavations, SHARP

Session 2: Mid Anglo-Saxon East Anglia

This session will synthesis the evidence for the Middle Anglo-Saxon transition during ‘the long 8th century’ in Norfolk. 


Lecture 4 - 12.10-12.55pm

Reflections on 25 Years of Anglo-Saxon Archaeology in East Anglia

Dr Richard Hoggett

Freelance Heritage Consultant


Lecture 5 - 13.00-13.40pm

West Norfolk in the Middle Anglo-Saxon Period: changing archaeological approaches and perceptions

Dr Gareth Davies

Regional Director, Trent & Peak Archaeology


Lecture 6 - 14.10-14.40pm

Sedgeford in the Economic Landscape of Middle Anglo-Saxon East Anglia

Dr Tim Pestell

Curator of Archaeology, Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery


Session 3: The Mid Anglo-Saxon World

This session will broaden the view to encompass the Middle Anglo-Saxon evidence for England as a whole and its connections with the wider Carolingian world. 


Lecture 7 - 14.50-15.30pm

The Animal Economy: a zooarchaeological perspective on agriculture and trade in Anglo-Saxon England

Dr Matilda Holmes

University of Leicester and Consultant Archaeozoologist


Lecture 8 - 15.35-16.15pm

The Final Episode of the Cereals: consumption of bread and beer in pre-Conquest England

Dr Debby Banham

University of Cambridge


Lecture 9 - 16.20-17.00pm

Another country? Regional diversity and the ‘Englishness’ of Anglo-Saxon Norfolk

Professor John Blair

University of Oxford


Plenary session - 17.00-17.30pm


To sign up for the conference, please complete your registration details here


Access to the conference is free but we would very grateful of any donations to SHARP which will enable us to continue our research at Sedgeford. You can donate to the project by using the Donate button below.

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