Anglo Saxons in the Lower Test Valley
In memory of Christopher Collier
(b. 1929 - d. 21.05.2013)
A project to study the lower Test valley in the Anglo-Saxon period.
We are undertaking a major study of the lower Test valley in the Anglo Saxon period in conjunction with the University of Winchester. The project involves a study of the southern Test valley in the Anglo-Saxon period, roughly from 400 A.D. to 1100 A.D.
The area on which we shall be concentrating lies generally to the south of the River Dun on the west and the eastern area that lies on the opposite bank of the River Test. The study area is wholly within Test Valley Borough together with Redbridge.
These places are primarily in the Hampshire basin, on clay and gravel terrain, and south of the chalklands. It is a unique project in that most settlement and landscape studies in this period concentrate on chalk or more upland terrain.
Research conducted during 2016
The Anglo Saxon project is now into its second year. We started 2016 by documenting our research and discoveries in a set of posters for display at the April conference on Anglo-Saxons and River Valley Settlements. These posters covered a range of topics arising from our study of individual parishes and the analysis of the charter boundary clauses. Our growing expertise in the use of QGIS software allowed us to map our findings, tying in our photos and text to the local area.
The project is currently focussing on the end of the Anglo Saxon period by looking at the entries in Domesday Book. How did our parishes fit in to the larger administrative units of Hundreds? How can we interpret the values of manors, the acreage of hides, and the numbers of slaves, pigs and ploughs? Where were the mills? There is a lot of interesting work ahead of us.
Romsey is also under investigation. We are working on a re-assessment of the archaeological evidence from the town, looking for its Roman and Anglo Saxon origins. The QGIS software is proving a very valuable tool, allowing us to combine modern and historic maps with the underlying geology and the latest 3-dimensional images produced from LiDAR data.
Want to know more?
Research conducted during 2015
A year into the project and we have studied the boundaries described in the Saxon land charters relevant to our area. These were only available for parishes to the east of the River Test. None of our villages on the west have charters that have survived.
In order to understand the area, we have made an introductory survey of each parish within our area and this part of the programme is complete. Four of our members are undertaking a course on the use of digital mapping (GIS). We propose to spend the winter studying large-scale nineteenth-century maps with a view to determining which are the oldest routeways in the area, and to make a start on field and other agricultural boundaries.
Dr Alex Langlands who was our link with the University of Winchester has taken up a post at Swansea University. We continue to work with Winchester and the link is now Dr Katherine Weikert, another Anglo-Saxon expert.
We meet informally on Monday mornings in Romsey’s Town Hall and at other times by arrangement. If you are interested in participating, either drop in on a Monday morning or email us.
Lt. Colonel Christopher Robert Collier lived with his wife Elizabeth in The Abbey, Romsey, for many years
Christopher was very interested in the early history of Romsey Abbey and spent much time looking at the logistics of running the institution. He also worked on the Saxon history of the abbey, under the guidance of Professor Barbara Yorke of the University of Winchester, one of Britain’s leading Saxon scholars.
At his death, Christopher left us a sizeable legacy and in his memory we are devoting it to a study of the Anglo-Saxon world of the lower Test valley: the world that Romsey’s early nuns would have known.