In 1978, when this book was first published, medieval archaeology was still a young discipline. It had been well-funded in the 1970s, when new data had accumulated very fast. But such had been the pressure of redevelopment in that decade that field archaeology was almost entirely rescue-led, allowing little opportunity for research. Notable exceptions included Martin Biddle's excavations at Winchester, Barry Cunliffe's at Portchester, Phil Barker's at Hen Domen, and the long-running investigation of the deserted village of Wharram Percy, directed by John Hurst and Maurice Beresford. But the great bulk of government funding was for a reactive archaeology, moving from one threatened site to the next.
Rescue archaeology was outstandingly successful, bringing unprecedented growth to the profession. However, that success had its down-side also in a growing back-log of unpublished excavations, and in the distancing of many field-workers from research. Some of those excavations remain unpublished even now, and the book I wrote in 1978 preserves the only printed record of their results. But medieval archaeology has moved on since that time. And what has kept my book in print is less its review of otherwise lost material than the historical context it still provides for all such work.
For more recent archaeological reviews, readers may now turn to John Kenyon (on fortifications) and Patrick Greene (on monasteries). Updating general surveys, supplementing my own, have been published by Helen Clarke (1984), John Steane (1985) and David Hinton (1990). Major site reports, unavailable when I wrote, have since appeared from York, Winchester and London, Northampton and Norwich, Carlisle and Castle Acre, Bordesley and Norton, Goltho, Wharram Percy and Raunds. This list could be extended many times and is still growing. But all this activity has yet to result in a fresh evaluation of history's place in medieval archaeology and vice versa. In the meantime, historians too have moved fast. In just one area of mutual interest-the late-medieval parish and its church-there have been important recent contributions by Eamon Duffy and Robert Whiting, Clive Burgess and Gervase Rosser, John Thomson, Peter
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Publication information: Book title: Medieval England: A Social History and Archaeology from the Conquest to 1600 A.D. Contributors: Colin Platt - Author. Publisher: Routledge. Place of publication: London. Publication year: 1994. Page number: xvii.
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