Today the blog is all about my work on the project. As a landscape archaeologist and GIS specialist, one of my primary tasks is the mapping of all known burials within the extent of the kingdom of Northumbria. One of the first steps has therefore been to define the spatial boundaries for the project. Northumbria’s boundaries were fluid, expanding or contracting according to conquests and losses. David Rollason notes the approximate boundaries of Northumbria at their greatest extent stretched from the North to Irish Sea and from the Cheshire and the Humber in the south to the Galloway and the Firth of Forth in the north (Rollason 2007, 2-7). Bede described in Historia Eccesiastica Gentis Anglorum in AD 731, that during King Edwin’s reign '[…] if a woman with a newborn child wanted to walk throughout the island from sea to sea she would meet no harm (HE II, 16, 191)', implying that Northumbrian royal control extended from the North to Irish Seas. While the coastlines offer a robust boundary for our study area to the east and the west, defining a cut off for the edges of the kingdom at its greatest extent to north and south is more difficult. At the outset therefore, the project is taking in data for England and Scotland from the following counties outlined below, purposely drawing in data from the broadest possible extent to reflect the fluid nature of the limits of this kingdom over time. Northumbria is noted for an imbalance in focus with much more research conducted on the eastern heartlands of the kingdom rather than the west (Clark 2011, 113). We hope to remedy this although a paucity of funerary data and issues of survival are well recognised challenges for the north west of England and the Scottish Borders. Our current working geographic extent can be seen here, boundaries are predicated on the pre-1974 boundaries for England and Scotland. Our scope allows us to include some assessment of the Peak District burials and bring in important burial data sets from the western Scottish borders.
Clark, F 2011 'Thinking about Western Northumbria', in D Petts and S Turner (eds), Early Medieval Northumbria: Kingdoms and Communities, AD 450-1100. Brepols.
Lucy, S 1999 'Changing burial rites in Northumbria AD 500–750', in J Hawkes and S Mills (eds), Northumbria's Golden Age. Sutton Publishing.
Rollason, D 2007 'Northumbria: A failed European kingdom', in R Colls (ed), Northumbria: History and Identity, 547-2000. Phillamore Publishing.