Scope of the A.S. Project
The Anglo Saxon Project
The Christopher Collier Bequest has provided funds for the Romsey Local History Society to initiate a major study of the lower Test Valley in the early medieval period and we have invited neighbouring local history societies to join in.
Our project is to look at the history of the Test river basin south of the Dun valley, and therefore primarily the area of clays and gravels, much of it ancient woodland or marsh, rather than the chalklands of further north in the centuries from the end of Roman Britain in about 400 A.D. to the establishment of Norman rulers in the early 12th century – known popularly as the Anglo Saxon period.
Areas of Interest
Settlements in our prime area include Awbridge, Braishfield, Chilworth, Dunbridge, Dunwood, East Dean, Lockerley, Melchet Park, Michelmersh, Mottisfont (part), North Baddesley, Nursling and Rownhams, Plaitford, Redbridge, Romsey Infra and Extra, Sherfield English, Timsbury, Wellow (including Embley). With the exception of Redbridge, these places are all within the current Test Valley Borough area.
This project provides an opportunity for our members and members of nearby local history societies to contribute to a major piece of historical research, whether or not they have prior specialist knowledge. Several people have joined us with no prior knowledge of the Anglo-Saxons or of landscape studies, but have quickly found that they can contribute to the work.
Members meet on alternate Thursday afternoons in the Town Hall basement to discuss the Anglo-Saxon project, although additional work is carried out on Monday mornings. In addition, maps and LIDAR surveys are being studied to help us understand the landscape and we make occasional field trips.
We have dedicated workshops on the first and third Thursday afternoons of each month (1 p.m. to 4pm) when we concentrate on this project. We talk about the various villages in our study area and are learning how to put findings onto digital maps.
Help from Specialists
We have been much helped by Dr Alex Langlands who was our contact with the University of Winchester. He has left us to take up an appointment in Swansea. We shall miss him but wish him well. We are working with Dr Ryan Lavelle of the University of Winchester to further the project. He is the Director of the Wessex Centre for History and Archaeology at the University. Our specific link is Dr Katherine Weikert In addition we are in communication with a number of other specialists in the field.
We hope that our input will stimulate work in the University as well as amongst our own members and anticipate that our findings will eventually become part of a website hosted by the University. The technical expertise of the university and our detailed knowledge of our landscape should bring about a very profitable partnership. Working with the University will give our members the opportunity to enhance their skills in aspects of historical and archaeological research.
The Way Forward
The project has three main components, namely to draw together what is already known, to add to that knowledge and finally to share it with the community and more widely.
In order to carry out this programme, we have to look at many sources, both with documents and in the field. Apart from exploring the landscape, we have started studying written sources. These include Saxon land charters, the Domesday Book, place names and map work.
We plan to spend about two years on the research, and then a further year preparing our material to present it a wider public, both in print form and via the web. Some money has been set aside to finance Christopher Collier events, whether in the form of conferences, exhibitions or talks, initially probably to discuss the work at intervals throughout the period of the study.
West Window 2020
Romsey Abbey Church Yard Photo:- Roy Romsey