The Long Eighth Century

By Inge Lyse Hansen; Chris Wickham | Go to book overview

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF PRODUCTION
IN EIGHTH-CENTURY ENGLAND
John Moreland*

Introduction
In the course of this paper, I want to make four simple points which I believe are crucial to our understanding of the economies of eighthcentury England.
we cannot understand these (or any early medieval economies) if we continue to isolate exchange from the other economic processes (consumption and production), and to assign it causal primacy;
the economies of eighth-century England cannot be understood in terms of a series of active cores (the emporia), surrounded by conservative, autarkic peripheries;
we destroy the distinctiveness of economic processes in the eighth century by the imposition of evolutionary and developmental models;
the significance of production in the regions of England has been massively underestimated, and that an argument can be made for seeing transformations in this element of the economic triad as the providing the force for economic development in the early middle ages.

In many ways the necessity to emphasise these points flow from some of the observations I made in an earlier chapter in this book about archaeologists' predilection for exchange,1 and from the almost total

____________________
1
J. Moreland, “Concepts of the early medieval economy”, (this volume).
*
I am grateful to the other members of the Transformation of the Roman World working group 3 for their intellectual stimulation and friendship. I am especially grateful to the editors of this volume for their forbearance, and to Paul Blinkhorn, Mark Pluciennik and Richard Hodges for invaluable conversations. Much of the research (and some of the writing) for this paper was done while I was Guest Professor in the Department of Prehistoric Archaeology, University of Århus. My special thanks go to Henrik Thrane, Ulf Näsman, Charlotte Fabech and Anita Laursen for creating the conditions for a very enjoyable and productive visit. As in the rest of this volume, the title refers to the “long eighth century”, from c. 680830. However, for reasons that I hope will become clear, I focus on the earlier part of that period c. 670–750.

-69-

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