Anglo Saxon Research

A Rare Gathering of Anglo Saxon Experts in Romsey 

Phoebe Merrick of Ltvas. - Frank Green, New Forest Park Archaeologist. - Dr Ryan Lavelle, Reader in Medieval History -

 Dr Patrick Hase, Historian and Senior Civil Servant HK - Professor David Hinton, Southampton University.

A packed audience of Anglo Saxon researchers met recently in the basement of the Romsey Townhall, The main thrust of the meeting was to discuss the ecclesiastical structure in Hampshire in the middle and later Saxon period.

     Dr Patrick Hase has done some ground-breaking work on the minster churches of Hampshire and we met to consider how his ideas meshed with ours for the lower Test valley. Hase’s thesis is that Christianity was overseen by a series of minster churches from which clergy would go out and minister to the population.

     There is no doubt that there was a minister church at Eling and another at Mottisfont. This does not leave enough room or population for two minsters between, so the question then is what was going on in the Nursling/Romsey area.

      The obvious solution is that where Romsey Abbey was established it replaced a minster, that may or may not have been monastic. However we have Bede’s statement that St Boniface (earlier called Wynfrith) studied in a monastery at Nursling. The consensus now seems to be that this monastery is more likely to have been when Romsey Abbey now is, and the name Nursling either covered a much larger area than it does now, or Bede was misinformed. No archaeological trace of a mid-Saxon monastery has ever been found in the Nursling area.           Phoebe Merrick 1st Sept 2016

Research News - Archive 

29th August 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 programme 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.

    

Karen Anderson

Lockerley Anglo Saxon Walk

26th August 2015

Click Poster to enlarge view

Romsey Local History Society embarked on an exploratory walk of anglo-saxon of sites in the area of Lockerly Hampshire.

A group of ten enthusiasts from the LTVAS Anglo Saxon Project, gathered in pouring rain at Butts Green for a day of exploration of ancient and historical sites in the parishes of Lockerley, East Dean and East Tytherley.

   The tour was led by Alec Morley, who gave a interesting commentary whilst taking the group around various sites including Glebe Field, Lockerly Mill, Holbury Mill, part of the old disused Salisbury/Southampton canal and Holbury Camp (an Ironage univallate hillfort).

   Following a leisurely lunch and a period of drying out at the Star Inn, East Tytherley, the afternoon session started in fine sunny       weather and included visits to East Dean Church, Top Green, Critchell's Green and, finally ended at Lockerley Church. 

 

Anglo Saxon Project - 2014/15 

 

At the moment, research is concentrated on the boundaries of the Saxon land charters.  Apart from setting out boundaries, the descriptions of these boundaries give us an idea of the landscape for which they were fashioned.  

 

There are useful charters in several parishes on the east of the River Test, but so far none have come to light for the parishes on the west.  For most of those places, the Domesday Book is the earliest written description we have although it is was compiled nearly at the end of our study period.

 

Dr Nathalie Barrett is teaching us how to use digital mapping and early next year we should be able to overlay computerised Ordnance Survey maps with the results of our studies.  We then hope to add layers that show the landscape of the tithe awards and earlier estate maps.  

 

The tithe awards were compiled in the 1830s and 1840s.  Many of them therefore date from the years after the common fields were enclosed, but nonetheless clues to an older landscape can still be found with careful examination.

 

.Help Required 2020/21

 

There are plenty of ways for amateurs to join in, whether they are knowledgeable or complete beginners. The Romsey Local History Society's archives are being examined to see what information we already hold that may be relevant. We are assembling a library of books about the period, with particular reference to southern England, and members are reading and discussing them.

 

We are also examining old maps with the aim of understanding the landscape better.

 

 

 

The Anglo Saxon Project – Public Talk - 2015

 

A public talk was given recently at the Town Hall by members of the Romsey History Society (LTVAS) describing the progress made so far with their two year study of   ‘Anglo- Saxon settlement in the Lower Test Valley – 600A.D. to 1120’

 

This study was made possible by a £25,000 bequest from the late Mr Christopher Collier, a former resident of Romsey who had a particular interest in the Anglo Saxon period.

 

The Society enlisted the collaboration of the History Department of Winchester University, noted for its work on the period. Dr. Langlands, a specialist in the period and well known for his television work on Time Team and the historical farm programmes, was made available to lead the society’s historians and archaeologists.

 

The geographical area of the survey includes the clay and gravel areas along the river Test south of the river Dun down to Redbridge, but excludes the well-researched chalk lands of the upper Test Valley.

 

Their talk explained how they set about discovering where the invading Anglo- Saxons settled and what modifications they made to the landscape.

 

East of the river Test there are contemporary charters which detail boundaries of grants of land made in Romsey, Michelmersh, Braishfield, Nursling and Baddesley.

 

They told how boundary marks are described in various ways – using natural features such as watercourses, trees - such as “ the hollow oak tree”, and the name of the Anglo- Saxon farmer. Most have long disappeared, but through the use of old maps and conducting field walks, they discovered many surviving natural features, boundary banks and ditches.

 

 Romsey’s Charter details the boundaries of lands granted to the Abbey by King Edgar in the tenth century. Within the present town there is evidence of iron smelting in the Newton Lane area and other smaller settlements.

 

They are now looking forward to the next phase of the project, when they will be doing landscape analysis, recording discoveries by previous researchers, interpreting old documents, and looking at the Domesday Book and the Anglo- Saxon Chronicle.  Other aspects of the Anglo – Saxon period such as farming, the pottery industry, trade and their religious observances are to be also looked into.

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Members of the Anglo Saxon Project on a field study day lead by Dr Alex Langlands of Winchester University looking at the landscape features along the A.S. boundary of Ampfield described in the 9th century charter.

The Town Hall Basement, 1 Market Place, Romsey, Hants. SO51 8YZ 

Romsey Local History Society
is part of the LTVAS Group
 (The Lower Test Valley Archaeological Study Group).
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