Saturday, 27 December 2014

Indian silver coins in Viking-age northern Europe & Britain

The following brief note is concerned with the small number of early medieval silver coins from India that have been found in northern Europe and Britain. Although the numbers of these items are small, with the PAS recording only three from Britain, it can be tentatively suggested that at least some of these coins are likely to be genuine arrivals from India in the early medieval period, rather than simply modern losses by tourists.

The distribution of Indian coins in northern Europe and Britain, along with the mints that produced them (drawn by C. R. Green). Also shown is the Helgö Buddha (found in Sweden), the locations of the mints in Afghanistan and Uzbekistan from which thousands of Islamic dirhams travelled to northern Europe, and the likely route taken by these dirhams and potentially by the Indian coins too.

Indian silver coins of the early medieval period have been found in small quantities at a number of sites in Germany, Poland, Estonia, Russia and Britain. These coins have received relatively little attention, but the evidence we have suggests that the continental coins, at least, were almost certainly fellow travellers with the hundreds of thousands of Islamic silver coins or dirhams that have been found in northern Europe (probably indicative of many millions of Islamic coins originally imported into the region) and whose presence is associated with the Vikings and their trading activities, perhaps primarily the slave-trade. Not only are the Indian coins found in the same areas as the Islamic dirhams are located and along the likely route that the dirhams followed northwards and westwards, but the continental Indian coins shown on the map above also all actually come from hoards of Islamic dirhams, confirming that their presence in northern Europe is indeed part of the same phenomenon as the movement of dirhams into this region.

A silver Indian 'Bull & Horse' coin of the Gandhāra kingdom (now northern Pakistan), dated c. AD 750–1050 and found near Warminster, Wiltshire (image: PAS)

Looking at the Indian coins themselves, it is worth noting in light of their association with Islamic dirhams in northern Europe that the Indian mint producing most of these coins lay immediately to the south-east of the dirham-producing mints of Uzbekistan and Afghanistan, at Ohind (Waihind, also known as Udabhandapura or Hund) in what is now northern Pakistan and was then the Indian Gandhāra kingdom, ruled by the Shahis. Furthermore, both Roman Kovalev and Thomas Noonan have noted that the hoards in which the Indian coins are found all date from the period in which dirhams were becoming increasingly rare, from the mid-tenth century onwards. In such circumstances, they suggest that the presence of Indian silver coins in northern Europe probably represents Central Asian merchants looking further afield for new sources of silver to fund their trade with northern Europe as the Sāmānid dirham supply significantly faltered, with the result that they started to occasionally supplement their silver dirhams with Indian silver coins from the regions that lay to the south-east of the dirham mints. Needless to say, such a scenario seems a credible explanation of the presence of small quantities of early medieval Indian coins in northern Europe and their clear association with Islamic dirhams there, and the notion that early medieval trading networks between northern Europe and Central Asia could indeed sometimes extend down to the Gandhāra region of India is in any case supported by the Helgö Buddha, a sixth-century statue from this area that was found in an eighth-century context in Sweden.

The Helgö Buddha, a sixth-century statue from the Gandhāra region found in Sweden (image: Swedish History Museum, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

If the above is the case for the early medieval Indian silver coins found on the continent, what then of those recorded from Britain? For the most part, there seems little obvious reason to divorce all of the British finds from either the general early medieval context of small numbers of Indian silver coins being found in northern Europe, or the occasional trading links between northern Europe and India (probably via intermediaries) additionally implied by the discovery of the Helgö Buddha in an eighth-century Swedish context. Certainly, Islamic dirhams are known in some numbers from Britain, as was discussed in a previous post, with the vast majority of these dirhams probably finding their way here as part of a westwards extension of the Viking bullion economy of northern Europe. As such, the presence of a few Indian coins in Britain might not be entirely unexpected, given the clear link between finds of dirhams and Indian coins on the continent. Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly, it is worth noting that two of the three Indian silver coins from Britain recorded on the PAS (the Wiltshire and the Norfolk examples) are both coins of the Gandhāra kingdom and of the 'right' period too, and so would seem to fit easily and naturally into the continental pattern, and the same is true also of another Indian silver coin recorded on the UKDFD as found in Britain, but which lacks a reliable, more specific provenance within the country.

On the other hand, we do still need to exercise caution. First, the three British finds of early medieval silver coins from Gandhāra recorded by the PAS and the UKDFD are single finds rather than constituents of Viking hoards, unlike the Indian coins recorded on the continent, and only one of three coins is known to come from the Danelaw area where dirham finds are concentrated (one of the others being of uncertain British provenance and the other being found in Wiltshire, outside of the Danelaw). However, it is worth remembering here that the reason why all of the continental finds analysed here come from hoards may simply be the fact that only Indian coins found in hoards were catalogued by Kovalev, the source used in creating the above map; there may well be single, non-hoarded finds of Indian coins from the continent too, but any such material has not yet been catalogued or published to my knowledge and so is not included here. Similarly, whilst only one of the coins from Gandhāra has a certain provenance in the area of Britain with the greatest concentration of dirhams, the Danelaw, one of the other two coins from Gandhāra could conceivably have come from this area due to its uncertain British provenance, and while the last was found in Wiltshire, Islamic dirhams are in fact known from this area, albeit in much smaller quantities than is the case in the Danelaw.

An Indian silver coin of the Palas dynasty of Bengal, dated AD 850–988, found near Hastings, East Sussex (image: PAS)

Map of early medieval India, showing the location of various dynasties and empires. The map shows the situation in the period before and around AD 900, but should serve to show the general geographic relationships of the various dynasties. The Shahis of the Gandhāra kingdom, now in northern Pakistan, are marked in the north of the map in the position they occupied in and after c. AD 900, with the location of their capital of Ohind also indicated. The fluctuating areas controlled by the Pratiharas dynasty of Gujarat and the Palas dynasty of Bengal in northern India are also marked (image modified slightly from a CC BY-SA 3.0 licensed map, Wikimedia Commons).

Second, there are a number of early medieval Indian coins found in Britain that are not silver coins of the Gandhāra kingdom of the type and era that appear in Viking-age hoards. It need hardly be said that these finds, which seem to fall outside of the general pattern of trading observable on the continent and have been found singly rather than in hoards, need to be potentially viewed with much more scepticism than those mentioned above, as there must be a significantly greater risk that they are in Britain as a result of eighteenth- to twentieth-century 'tourist' losses. Nonetheless, it is still not impossible that some of these too arrived here via the early medieval Central Asian and Viking trading networks, and consequently details of these finds are provided below.

The first of these coins was found near Chester, on the edge of the Danelaw. It is dated to the early medieval period on the PAS, and described there as an 'unidentified gold stater, possibly Indian or Afghanistan', so perhaps envisaged as being of the Gandhāra kingdom, as this encompassed significant parts of Afghanistan before the start of the tenth century? Given the uncertain identification and the fact that the coin is of gold, not silver, this find obviously needs to be treated with considerable caution. Another find is an Indian silver coin of the Palas dynasty of Bengal, dated AD 850–988, discovered by a metal-detectorist near to Hastings in East Sussex. This coin is not only found well away from the Danelaw, in an area with no known silver dirhams, but it was also issued by a dynasty from a region significantly more distant from the Central Asian trade routes than was Gandhāra. However, as can be seen from the second map included above, the Palas dynasty was not confined to modern Bengal but controlled a significant proportion of northern India at various times in this era, and the coin is of the right material and period. As such, it is not wholly impossible that it might have made its way to Britain as part of the trade process described above, after first being transferred to the Gandhāra kingdom as a result of trading within India.

Finally, two early medieval Indian silver coins of Gujarat are recorded by the UKDFD, one from Bedford (possibly of the eleventh or twelfth century) and another from Southwell, Nottinghamshire (dated broadly to c. AD 470–800). Both are of the right material and found in the Danelaw, where most Islamic dirhams occur, and the Gujarat Pratiharas dynasty certainly ruled on occasion right up to the southern edge of Kashmir, so it is again not entirely impossible that these coins could have been transferred to the Gandhāra kingdom and then moved on north and westwards. However, we do need to be wary with these two coins, particularly as the first coin appears to post-date the silver coins of the Gandhāra kingdom that are found in northern Europe and Britain by a potentially significant amount, and the second coin appears to pre-date them to an equally notable degree. As such, they need to be treated with caution.

The content of this post and page, including any original illustrations, is Copyright © Caitlin R. Green, 2014, All Rights Reserved, and should not be used without permission. 

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

The distribution of Islamic dirhams in Anglo-Saxon England

The aim of the following post is simply to share a map that I produced recently whilst looking at some of the Viking-era finds from Torksey in Lincolnshire. The map in question depicts the distribution Islamic dirhams (silver coins) in Anglo-Saxon England and is based on PAS and EMC data collected in December 2014, supplemented by the pre-PAS/EMC finds catalogued by Rory Naismith in 2005—these three sources were then cross-checked against each other and duplicate entries and the like were removed before the map was plotted.

The distribution of Islamic dirhams (silver coins) in Anglo-Saxon England; click for a larger view of this map (drawn by C. R. Green). Also depicted on here are the locations of the few Islamic gold dinars known from Anglo-Saxon England and the location of Torksey, Lincolnshire.

Several points can be briefly made with regard to the distribution of these finds. First and foremost, the distribution of single finds of Islamic dirhams in Anglo-Saxon England is focussed on the Danelaw, and many of the coin found here have been cut, nicked or hacked apart in a manner characteristic of their use as part of the Viking bullion economy. Such a situation is unsurprising—Islamic dirhams are extremely common in Viking-age Russia and Scandinavia, and the vast majority of the coins found in England are very likely to have arrived here via these areas.

An eighth-century Islamic silver dirham found at Fingringhoe, Essex, struck at the Wasit mint in modern Iraq (image: PAS)

A probably ninth-century Islamic silver dirham found at Torksey, cut into a quarter to provide a smaller unit of exchange in a Viking bullion economy (image: PAS).

Locations of the mints that produced the Islamic coins found in Anglo-Saxon England, with an indication of the proportion of the total corpus that came from each mint and the likely route that many of these coins took to reach England (drawn by C. R. Green).

Second, a significant proportion of the single finds of silver dirhams come from a single site, that at Torksey, Lincolnshire—for example, 57 of the 80 Islamic coins recorded by the PAS come from this site, with over 100 known in total from here. The reason for this concentration of finds at Torksey is that the Viking 'Great Army' overwintered at Torksey in 872–3 and the dirhams come from their camp site, which was located on a high cliff overlooking the River Trent and has been thoroughly investigated by metal-detectorists in recent years.

Third and finally, a small number of Islamic gold dinars of the eighth, tenth and eleventh centuries are known from England. These items are much rarer than the silver dirhams and are thought to be indicative of a degree of knowledge of Islamic coinage in Anglo-Saxon England separate to the influx of silver dirhams that came with the Vikings. Perhaps the most eloquent testimony to a pre-Viking Anglo-Saxon knowledge of Islamic coinage is the gold dinar struck by Offa of Mercia in the later eighth century, which closely copied a dinar of the Abbasid caliph al-Mansur struck in AD 773/4. This coin, shown below and procured in Rome in the nineteenth century, is the only surviving example of this issue and may have been one of the 365 mancuses (a word that probably refers to Islamic dinars) that Offa agree to pay to the papacy every year. Alternatively, it may have been produced for use in overseas trade, and in this context it is worth noting that the coin has clearly circulated and is not in mint condition. In either case, its existence necessarily implies the presence of its prototype here and so constitutes additional evidence for the importation of Islamic dinars into pre-Viking England, above and beyond the finds of such coins that have been made here.

An eighth-century coin of Offa, Anglo-Saxon king of Mercia, copied from a gold dinar of the Abbasid caliph Al-Mansur struck in AD 773/4. Note, the legend OFFA REX is upside down relative to the Arabic (image: Wikimedia Commons).

The content of this post and page, including any original illustrations, is Copyright © Caitlin R. Green, 2014, All Rights Reserved, and should not be used without permission. 

Friday, 12 December 2014

Pagan pendants, sceptres, lead tablets & runic inscriptions: some interesting recent finds from Lincolnshire

The following post is intended to highlight some of the more interesting Roman, Anglo-Saxon and Viking artefacts that have been found in Lincolnshire in recent years.

Two pagan Viking pendants from Lincolnshire 

Two interesting Viking pendants have been recovered from Lincolnshire recently. The first of these is a gold Viking pendant in the form of 'Thor's hammer', which dates from around AD 850–950 and was found near to Spilsby in 2013. 'Thor's hammers' are believed to be amuletic pendants which resembled Mjölnir, the hammer of the Norse god Thor, and they have often been considered to reflect a pagan reaction to the spread of Christianity. In addition to the general symbolism of the item, this pendant is interesting in two regards. First, it is made of gold, whereas most known 'Thor's hammers' are made of other metals, notably silver and copper-alloy; in fact, only one other gold example is known from England (from South Lopham, Norfolk). Second, it is decorated with punched motifs resembling quatrefoils or miniature axes, whereas most English examples are plain or only minimally decorated.

A tenth-century, gold Viking pendant in the form of 'Thor's hammer' (image: PAS)

The second pendant was found in 2014 at Wintringham, north Lincolnshire. It is a cast silver pendant with a gilded face that depicts the Norse god Odin and his attendant ravens, Huginn and Muninn ('Thought' and 'Memory'). Odin and his ravens are depicted skeletally, with Odin shown with one sighted and one blind eye, clasping the two birds to his chest whilst they appear to whisper into each of his ears. It has been suggested that this tenth-century pendant 'proudly proclaims a militant paganism' in an era that saw the Christianisation of the Scandinavian inhabitants of the 'Danelaw'. Further, the possibility has been raised that the tripartite grouping of Odin, Huginn and Muninn might be 'a deliberately offensive pastiche of the Christian Trinity or of Christ crucified flanked by thieves', an intent that could also lie behind the resemblance of 'Thor's Hammer' pendants to Christian crucifixes, according to Kevin Leahy (cited in the Portable Antiquities Scheme record).

A cast silver, gilded pendant depicting Odin, Huginn and Muninn (image: PAS)

Some Romano-British sceptres in the form of Mars from Lincolnshire

Four sceptres in the form of the helmeted Roman god Mars have been found in Lincolnshire, three of which are illustrated below (the fourth came from the major Roman settlement at Kirmington, north Lincolnshire, and was published in 1989). Mars seems to have been a popular deity in this region and these four sceptre heads have been associated with two similar Mars sceptre heads recovered from the tomb of a Roman priest at Brough on Humber, East Yorkshire. Furthermore, it has been noted that the Nettleham find was made on land to the east of a probable Romano-British temple or sanctuary. A limestone plaque decorated with Romano-British motifs and bearing the inscription DEO MARTI RIGO/NEMETI ET NVMINI/BVS AVGVSTORVM/ Q NERAT PROXSI/MVS ARCVM DE SVO/ DONAVIT was found here in 1961, which has been translated as meaning 'To the god Mars, King of the Grove, and the divine spirits of the emperors, Quintus Neratius Proximus dedicated this arch at his own expense'. In light of the above, Adam Daubney suggests that the Nettleham sceptre head may have been once part of the priestly regalia associated with the temple here, and a similar suggestion might be appropriate for the other sceptres found in this region too.

A sceptre head in the form of a helmeted Mars and an ox-head spout, found on the important Romano-British site near Lissingleys/Wickenby, discussed in Britons & Anglo-Saxons, pp. 140–5 (image: Britons & Anglo-Saxons, fig. 27; now also at PAS NLM-5FBEB7 & NLM-5DF5D6).

Romano-British copper alloy sceptre terminal in the form of the head of Mars, found at Nettleham (image: PAS)

Romano-British copper alloy sceptre terminal in the form of Mars, found at Wragby (image: PAS)

Late Roman lead tablets from Fulstow

Three rather intriguing drilled lead tablets were recovered from Fulstow in 2007 by a metal-detectorist. One of these was blank, but the other two have negative impressions of a coin of the Roman Emperor Valens (364–78) at their centre. The exact purpose of these items is open to debate, but one credible interpretation is that they were used in the forging of late fourth-century silver coins; alternatively, it has been suggested that they possibly could have been intended as pictorial curse tablets used against the Emperor Valens. The site itself is located on the edge of the Late Roman coastal zone and other finds made from it include some bronze casting waste, a lead ingot, and 38 Roman coins.

A lead tablet containing the impression of a Roman coin of Valens, 364–78 (image: PAS)

A second lead tablet containing the impression of a Roman coin of Valens, 364–78 (image: PAS)

Two runic inscriptions from Lincolnshire

Two items with interesting runic inscriptions have been recovered by metal-detectorists in Lincolnshire. The first is a pair of silver-alloy, eighth- or ninth-century tweezers found at Honington (south Lincolnshire) in 2011. Both arms of the tweezers are inscribed with an Old English runic text, which has been examined and rendered by John Hines:
Side A: + þecblœtsigubilwitfæddæ. Side B: ondwerccagehwelchefænondecla. 
Hines observes that together the texts are remarkably close to a passage of three lines of verse in the Old English poem Azarias (lines 73–5) from the Exeter Book, translated as: Let the glories of the created world and everything made, the heavens and the angels, and the pure water, [and all the power of creation upon Earth], bless Thee, kind Father. These lines, in turn, represent a vernacular paraphrase of part of the 'Book of Daniel' about the three youths in the fiery furnace. The inscription itself is dated to c. 725–825 and the religious character of the inscriptions has led to the suggestion that the item may have had an ecclesiastical purpose, perhaps as tweezers or candle-snuffers used in church rituals.

Detail of the runic inscription on the pre-Viking tweezers from Honington (image: PAS)

The second item is a lead spindle whorl found at Saltfleetby St Clement in 2010. This piece is inscribed with a Norse runic inscription that probably dates from the earlier eleventh century. The text on the wall of whorl reads .oþen.ok.einmtalr.ok.þalfa.þeir., whilst that on the flat face reads ielba.þeruolflt.ok.kiriuesf.. John Hines suggests that the first part can be translated as 'Óðinn and Heimdallr and Þjálfa, they...', whilst the second part is more obscure but seems to carry on ' thee Úlfljótr and....' (the meaning of the last word, kiriuesf, is uncertain). Óðinn and Heimdallr are, of course, major gods of the pre-Christian Viking pantheon, and Þjálfa could be a previously unrecorded feminine counterpart to Þjálfi, a servant-boy of the god Thor known from Old Norse sources. Úlfljótr, in contrast, is a man's name, with the result that the inscription as a whole would appear to represent a simple personal invocation of traditional gods and powers for the support of Úlfljótr, whoever he may have been: 'Óðinn and Heimdallr and Þjálfa, they help thee, Úlfljótr...'. This is naturally of considerable interest, especially given the likely date of the object, and the inscription constitutes important evidence for the persistence of non-Christian cult on the east coast of Lincolnshire into the eleventh century.

The lead spindle whorl from Saltfleetby St Clement, view of the flat face and side (image: PAS)

The lead spindle whorl from Saltfleetby St Clement, view of the side and conical area (image: PAS)

Original content on this post and page is copyright © Caitlin R. Green, 2014. This post also contains text sourced and adapted from the Portable Antiquities Scheme website (licensed under a Creative Commons CC-BY 3.0 license) and images from this site too (licensed under a Creative Commons CC BY-SA 2.0 licence).

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

The Anglo-Saxon trading-site at Garwick: a brief update

The pre-Viking, fen-edge trading site at Garwick in southern Lincolnshire—'the wīc (trading site) on a triangular piece of land' or 'belonging to *Gæra'—was discussed at length in Britons and Anglo-Saxons, especially at pp. 191–4, 197–200. As was noted there, this highly productive site has produced a very significant quantity of material, including a sixth-century 'Pressblech' Style I die and other early Anglo-Saxon artefacts, a large number of late sixth- to seventh-century continental gold coins or tremisses, and the largest non-hoarded group of Middle Saxon coins in England after that recovered from Hamwic (Southampton). In total, the site scatter covers between 17 and 32 hectares, a significantly greater extent than those associated with the pre-Viking high-status or minster sites at, for example, Brandon, Suffolk, and Flixborough, Lincolnshire—which encompass 4.75 and 2.5 hectares, respectively—and of a similar scale to those of the major Middle Saxon trading sites or wīcs, such as Ipswich and York, which cover between c. 10 and 60 hectares.

A continental gold tremissis, dated 600–675, found at this site (image: PAS LIN-B70DC6)
Needless to say, a full analysis of Garwick is beyond the scope of the present post. The site is clearly extremely significant and, as noted above, an extended discussion of it is available in Britons and Anglo-Saxons, with a standalone publication envisaged in due course. The current piece is instead simply intended to revise and update the find totals reported in Britons and Anglo-Saxons in light of new finds over the last few years. The latter publication noted that, as of 2009, around 160 late seventh- to mid-eighth-century sceattas had been found at the site, in addition to other types including a mid-seventh-century gold shilling, thirteen tremisses, and a gold blank flan. As of December 2014, these figures have increased so that approximately 195 sceattas are now known from Garwick; an additional three tremisses have come to light too, taking the total of these to 16 (plus the gold shilling and a gold blank flan). 

The sixth-century, ‘Pressblech’ Style I die from this site, used for making foil mounts (image: Britons and Anglo-Saxons, fig. 37; PAS LIN-4F6CE7)
A silver sceat from this site, series G (Quentovic), c. 710–20 (image: PAS LIN-DED9E4)

The content of this post and page, including any original illustrations, is Copyright © Caitlin R. Green, 2014, 2015, All Rights Reserved, and should not be used without permission. It also includes images from the Portable Antiquities Scheme/The Trustees of the British Museum, licensed under a Creative Commons CC BY-SA 2.0 licence.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Villas and ranches on the late Roman Lincolnshire Wolds: the Welton le Wold villa and its landscape context

The following brief post is concerned with the significant Roman villa that was located at Welton le Wold, Lincolnshire, on a spot with good views out over Louth to the Lincolnshire Marshes and coast beyond.

St James's Church, Louth, as seen from close to the villa site on the hilltop at Welton le Wold, with the Lincolnshire Marshes lying beyond (photo: C. R. Green).
The Welton le Wold villa has been discussed in print previously in Lincolnshire's Archaeology from the Air (1998) and my Origins of Louth (2011), and is evidenced via a combination of cropmarks/soilmarks, chance finds recovered from walking the site, and metal-detecting. The crop and soilmarks, which Jones identifies as a villa complex, extend over an area of 650m by 300m—see illustration, below—and are centred on a large rectangular enclosure that measures 200m by 100m, within which there was a sizeable, double-ditched open D-shaped enclosure. Associated finds recorded by Dilwyn Jones and the Historic Environment Record include Romano-British pottery, oyster shell and possible tile (the latter a rare find in eastern Lincolnshire and indicating the presence of a Romanized building). In addition, further material has been recovered from the villa site in recent years by a metal-detectorist, although the site is now apparently impossible to detect on due to contamination.

A Roman silver Siliqua, probably unclipped, of Valentinian I (364-375), found at the Welton le Wold villa site (image: PAS).

Confusingly, the metal-detected material has been recorded on the Portable Antiquities Scheme database under a variety of grid-references and parish locations, but the detectorist who found the artefacts has confirmed in writing that all of the following finds actually came from the site of the villa (see the gazetteer to Origins of Louth, p. 148). The Romano-British material he recovered from this site consists of a number of first- to second-century items—including brooches and a button & loop fastener—and over 300 bronze and silver Roman coins, primarily belonging to the third and, especially, the fourth century. Needless to say, this is a very significant quantity of coinage for this part of Lincolnshire, with coin concentrations here being otherwise thin, rarely reaching into double figures. Perhaps most important of all, however, is his find of an important silver British proto-handpin of the later fourth or fifth century. Although given a general 'Welton' location by the PAS, it too was recovered from the villa site. Such silver pins are very rare indeed and its presence here would seem to confirm that there were high-status Britons living at the Welton le Wold villa site at the end of the Roman period.

A silver and niello proto-handpin from Welton le Wold, found on the villa  site (image: Green, Origins of Louth, fig. 28)

The distribution of 'Insular Military-Style silver pins', drawn by C. R. Green after Gavin, 2013; click for a larger version of the image (map contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011).

With regard to landscape context of the Welton villa, two aspects deserve comment. First and foremost is the fact that the villa appears to be part of a larger Romano-British cropmark landscape, running for around 2km from Welton to the prehistoric Bluestone Heath ridgeway. The image below shows the location of two of the other key features in this landscape. The most westerly of these is a 'ladder enclosure', a form of large rectilinear enclosure with regular internal divisions that is found associated with villas and small Roman 'towns' in Lincolnshire. The other is an extensive, irregularly shaped group of rectilinear cropmarks located to the south-west of the villa site, covering an area 500m by 400m. This expanse of cropmarks has produced a Romano-British quern stone, samian ware and third- to fourth-century pottery, and has been interpreted by Jones as a potential dependent village associated with the Welton villa estate.

The second thing to note with regard to the landscape context of the Welton villa is the apparent lack of a cropmark arable field-system accompanying the villa and the potential dependent village. Such a lack of evidence for an associated arable field-system is, in fact, replicated around the other known Romano-British settlements on the Lincolnshire Wolds and is intriguing, as is the presence of a large double-ditched, non-defensive enclosure at Welton, which is probably best interpreted as a feature associated with stock control or stock rearing. Needless to say, the occurrence of this feature alongside the lack of an accompanying arable field system has been seen as evidence that the Lincolnshire Wolds in the Roman period was largely an open range, with villas such as that at Welton le Wold functioning principally as a stock farms or ranches within this landscape.

The general location of the Welton le Wold villa and associated Romano-British landscape features, including a possible dependent village to its south-west: click image for a larger version of this plan. Base image © 2014 Google; red shading reflects Romano-British landscape features, based on D. Jones, 'Romano-British Settlements on the Lincolnshire Wolds', in R. H. Bewley (ed.), Lincolnshire's Archaeology from the Air (Lincoln, 1998), pp. 69–80 at p. 74, and cropmarks visible on the Google aerial photograph.

The content of this post and page, including any original illustrations, is Copyright © Caitlin R. Green, 2014, All Rights Reserved, and should not be used without permission.