The Archaeology of Medieval Government
DOI link for The Archaeology of Medieval Government
The Archaeology of Medieval Government book
It might be thought that archaeology, which has been described as 'the study of the physical evidence - structures and artefacts, both visible and buried - of the history of mankind', 1 has little to offer to the study of medieval government. Certainly, far more emphasis has been given in the recent past to the publication, analysis and explanation of the voluminous administrative records of the Middle Ages. In fact, the surviving remains of buildings and objects left by the rulers of medieval England are important evidence in understanding their exercise of power. At the risk of gross simplification of a complex subject, three main power centres of medieval England will be looked at: kings, bishops and boroughs. First, a brief survey will be made of the structural evidence of royal power and the mystique surrounding it: coronations, crown wearings, funerals and tombs. The buildings used for royal residence, administration and protection will be described. Secondly, the architectural expression of episcopal and municipal authority will be reviewed. Thirdly, the archaeology of medieval justice will be considered. Finally, we will look at the artifactual side of medieval government, the crowns, plate, crosiers and seals which gave tangible expression to authority.