Brian Ayers [+]
University of East Anglia
This chapter provides an introduction to the volume. The medieval North Sea region is defined, noting that discussion must include evidence from the Baltic Sea area as well. The text emphasises that the concepts of environment, community and interaction are explored, using archaeological research and material in a questioning, thematic manner, as well as providing a broad chronological framework to the discussion. Evidence is drawn from both urban and rural contexts with consideration of key human concerns such as food, clothing, shelter and spiritual nourishment but also of resource acquisition, exploitation of those resources, commercial interaction, design innovation, technological development and social context. The latest scientific research, such as the isotopic work on medieval fishbone, is combined with assessment of the impact of archaeological research on sites, buildings and landscapes over the last 40 years. The geographic scope of the volume is made clear: from Iceland to the Thames estuary on the western side of the North Sea and from Norway to Flanders (and beyond to Lübeck and the Gdánsk region) on the east side.