An investigation of the beginnings of Somerset as a shire, one of a series on the origins of the shire in the early Middle Ages, drawing upon archaeological evidence, literary and documentary sources focusing upon the Anglo-Saxon period and place name research.
This history covers a period in the early history of Somerset when documentary material is non-existent or at best very sparse and so it relies on archaeological sources and studies such as place-names, as well as upon charters and documentary sources such as the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and the Domesday Book. Much of this book is, therefore, speculative. Nevertheless it seems a worthwhile exercise to try to outline a possible history for the county up to about 1150. The author has stopped at that point because he believes that "Somerset", essentially as seen today, once we take away the modern trappings of technical change, had been formed by that date. The historic country was in existence. Its local communities had taken on the shape they have today. Most of the towns were there. The backbone of its communications existed. The foundations of local administration had been laid. The church had assumed the organization and coverage of the community which it has retained to this day, even if the monasteries have gone. Both the idea and the substance of Somerset are recognizable. Underlying the book are two themes. The first is that the county, even before it can be recognized as such, has been shaped by its rulers, whether they were Iron Age chieftains, Romano-British aristocrats or Anglo-Saxon thegns. The second theme is that of the ordinary people, who endured. the neolithic men and women were the ancestors of the men and women of the Norman countryside.
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The earliest farmers - the first farmers, social structure, metalworking and hillforts, the coming of the Romans; the Romans in Somerset - the Roman conquest, town and country, the gods, conclusion; post-Roman Somerset - catastrophe and collapse - rebuilding the countryside, the re-emergence of a state, post-Roman religious life, conclusion; the coming of the English - monasteries and churches, war and peace in the countryside, property and obligation, towns and churches, the church, a gazetteer of possible church sites in late Anglo-Saxon Somerset; "Domesday Book and Beyond" - castles and lands, church and foreigners.
The Origins of Somerset by Michael Costen
Origins of the Shire
Used - Very Good
Manchester University Press
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