55 – Anglo Saxon Construction

OK, So I had requests for an episode on construction. I actually had a surprising number of requests for it, actually. So we're going to do a single episode on how things were built, and since we've been talking about feasts, we'll talk about... of course... feasting halls.

Now as I've said with much of this material, it's really hard to study. This is because of the materials they used, of course. Timber doesn't keep too well unless it's in a bog or something along those lines. And while it would have been handy if Cerdic decreed that everything had to be built in stone, he didn't, so here we are.

And adding to our troubles is the fact that the sites for the Anglo Saxon buildings didn't change over time too much. Which means that the sites end up being tough to analyze because other medieval buildings have been built on the same site. Not to mention modern buildings, such as Car Parks. You know, like in the case with the possible grave of Richard III.

And as you might have guessed, with so few items that survive, and the contamination of the site throughout history, dating anything we find would be pretty hard too.

Well what about post holes, you might be saying. Remember the Balbridie structure? That's pretty much just post holes. So why don't we just look at those and figure it out? Well, the problem there is that the buildings appear to have been deconstructed and reconstructed from time to time. Think about your homes. The plot of land that you live on right now has probably had quite a few different buildings on it over time, at least if you live in an urban area. So if we find post holes, we can't be sure that they were part of the same building, or even from the same time frame. And Pollington suggests that keeping the existing building after taking it over might have been a sign of poverty, so knocking down the old building and building a new house might have been a cultural and prestige thing.

And frankly, I've seen plenty of that in our modern culture. If not knocking it down, at least building extensions and doing dramatic remodels.

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  3 comments for “55 – Anglo Saxon Construction

  1. September 26, 2012 at 5:43 am

    Just listened to this episode today and found it absolutely fascinating.

    Also, while I grit my teeth on the occasional shots at the Church in your very fine podcast, I’m relieved to find a public discussion of the Middle Ages that doesn’t assume that everyone in them was living like a character in Shrek. These ages are in part “dark” because the folks who come after any one era always assume that those in the immediately preceding era were amusing rustics. Pretty much how we’ll be perceived, I’m sure in 50 to 100 years.

    • September 26, 2012 at 7:56 am

      I’m so glad you’re enjoying the cultural shift the tone has taken. And i love your 50 years example. I might have to steal it. :)

      Im sorry you feel you have to grit your teeth at times though. You know, I’ve read the bible multiple times and really like Jesus’ style. I think I would have really liked him and would have wanted to hang out with him pretty much all the time. His views and actions were pretty much in line with mine. At least how I aspire to be. ;) He seems like he was my kind of person. A total hippy. And how could I not love that?

      So the thing is that sometimes, when I take a shot at the church, it’s because something absurd is happening like the fires or the monk orgies. But in general, I typically only rankle and get snarky when the church deviates wildly from the rather outstanding example Jesus established. I’m not Christian, but I really like the teachings of Jesus and it drives me nuts whenever the church had ignored vast portions of what he said and instead focused on expanding power and control.

      So I’m not against Jesus. I think he was pretty great. I just take issue with some of the things done in his name. Does that help at all?

      • Gary
        November 25, 2015 at 12:40 am

        You talk of Jesus as if he was a real person. I’m presuming you don’t really hold that view.
        Loving the podcast by the way, shall be joining soon.

        Gary (northern England).

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