The Ancient Ways of Wessex: Travel and Communication in an Early Medieval Landscape

March 17, 2021
The Ancient Ways of Wessex: Travel and Communication in an Early Medieval Landscape

The Ancient Ways of Wessex tells the story of Wessex’s roads inthe early medieval period, at the point at which they first emergein the historical record. This is the age of the Anglo-Saxons andan era that witnessed the rise of a kingdom that was taken to thevery brink of defeat by the Viking invasions of the ninth century.It is a period that goes on to become one within which we can tracethe beginnings of the political entity we have come to know todayas England. In a series of ten detailed case studies the reader isinvited to consider historical and archaeological evidence,alongside topographic information and ancient place-names, in thereconstruction of the networks of routeways and communications thatserved the people and places of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom ofWessex.Whether you were a peasant, pilgrim, drover, trader, warrior,bishop, king or queen, travel would have been fundamental to lifein the early middle ages and this book explores the physical meansby which the landscape was constituted to facilitate and improvethe movement of people, goods and ideas from the seventh through tothe eleventh centuries. What emerges is a dynamic web ofinterconnecting routeways serving multiple functions and one,perhaps, even busier than that in our own working countryside. Anarrative of transition, one of both of continuity and change,provides a fresh and alternative window into the everyday workingsof an early medieval landscape through the pathways trodden over amillennium ago.