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Study information

Trading Places, Towns, Royal Palaces and Fortifications: Early Medieval Centres in Europe (400-1100AD)

Module titleTrading Places, Towns, Royal Palaces and Fortifications: Early Medieval Centres in Europe (400-1100AD)
Module codeARC3126
Academic year2022/3
Module staff

Dr Hajnalka Herold (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

In this module you will explore the world of early medieval centres in Europe, both on the Continent and the British Isles. The following questions will be addressed: What kind of centres existed in early medieval Europe? What was their layout like, what spatial experience did they offer to their inhabitants and visitors? Where were they placed in the landscape? Who lived at these centres (number of inhabitants, age, gender, identities)? What kind of symbolic meanings did these sites possess? Were there differences/similarities between European regions? How did these centres relate to early medieval social change? What roles do these sites play in maintaining present-day identities?

Module aims - intentions of the module

The aim of the module is to provide an introduction to different kinds of early medieval centres, such as trading sites, towns, fortifications and royal palaces and to develop an appreciation of the structure, roles and meanings of these key sites in their spatial and social context. 

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Know the principal types of early medieval centres and their basic characteristics
  • 2. Know the range of methods available for the study of these sites and their social contexts
  • 3. Appreciate the ways how the study of centres contributes to a better understanding of the early medieval period

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. Understand the role of studying archaeological sites in interpreting the past
  • 5. Consider a series of different approaches to archaeological sites in different research traditions
  • 6. Appreciate the reflection of past identities in the archaeological record and understand possibilities and limits of their study

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 7. Develop an ability to interpret a variety of information forms and learn constructively from verbal and written feedback.
  • 8. Present to a high level clearly structured, well-written and appropriately illustrated arguments.
  • 9. Prepare a presentation using appropriate visual aids.

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • Different types of centres in early medieval Europe
  • Layout of early medieval centres
  • Spatial experience at early medieval centres for inhabitants and visitors
  • Position of early medieval centres in the landscape
  • Inhabitants (number, age, gender, identities)
  • Symbolic meanings of early medieval centres
  • Regional differences/similarities within Europe
  • Early medieval centres and social change
  • Early medieval centres and present-day identities

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching 22Lecture content, critical discussion and groupwork
Guided independent study 128Independent study to include reading and preparation for lectures, seminars, presentations and assessments.

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Group presentation8 minutes (in class, or via an online platform if face to face teaching is not possible; online can be synchronous or non-synchronous delivery; non-synchronous delivery will be through submitting presentation slides and presentation text)1-7, 9Verbal comment (written comment for non-synchronous delivery)

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Individual presentation4010 minutes (Presentation slides and presentation text if no face to face teaching is possible)1-7, 9Mark and written comment
Essay602000 words1-8Mark and written comment

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Individual presentation Presentation slides and presentation text1-7, 9Refer/defer period
EssayEssay 1-8Refer/defer period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment. 

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Key reading (e-books, e-journal paper, and resources available online):

  • Christie, Neil and Herold, Hajnalka (eds) 2016: Fortified Settlements in Early Medieval Europe: Defended Communities of the 8th–10th Centuries. Oxford: Oxbow.
  • Crabtree, Pam J. (ed.) 2000: Medieval Archaeology: An Encyclopedia. New York: Garland Publishing. Availble online at
  • Crabtree, Pam J. et al. 2004: Early Middle Ages/Migration Period, in Bogucki, Peter I. and Crabtree, Pam J. (eds) Ancient Europe 8000 BC–1000 AD: An Encyclopedia of The Barbarian World, Volume 2. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 321-598. Available online at
  • Hamerow, Helena, Hinton, David A. and Crawford Sally (eds) 2010: The Oxford Handbook of Anglo-Saxon Archaeology. Oxford: Oxford University Press. – especially Chapter VI. Trade, Exchange, and Urbanization
  • Henning, Joachim (ed.) 2007: Post-Roman Towns, Trade and Settlement in Europe and Byzantium, Vol. 1: The Heirs of the Roman West. Berlin and New York: DeGruyter.
  • Herold, Hajnalka 2012: Fortified Settlements of the 9th and 10th Centuries AD in Central Europe: Structure, Function and Symbolism, Medieval Archaeology 56, 60-84.
  • Gelichi, Sauro and Hodges, Richard (eds) 2012: From one sea to another: trading places in the European and Mediterranean early Middle Ages. Proceedings of the International Conference Comacchio, 27th-29th March 2009, Turnhout: Brepols.
  • Graham-Campbell, James and Valor, Magdalena (eds) 2007: The archaeology of medieval Europe: Vol.1 eighth to twelfth centuries AD, Arhus: Arhus University Press. – especially Chapters 4 (Urban Settlement), 5 (Housing Culture), 11 (Fortifications), 12 (The Display of Secular Power)
  • Willemsen, Annemarieke and Kik, Hanneke (eds) 2010: Dorestad in an international framework: New research on centres of trade and coinage in Carolingian times, Proceedings of the first Dorestad Congress held at the National Museum of Antiquities Leiden, The Netherlands, June 24-27, 2009, Turnhout: Brepols.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

ELE Page of module:

Key words search

Archaeology, Medieval, Sites

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites

Must NOT have taken ARC2126

Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date