The Anglo-Saxon monasteries of Wearmouth and Jarrow were amongst the most sophisticated centres of learning and artistic culture in 7th- and 8th-century Europe. As home to the great scholar Bede, their intellectual legacy was felt throughout the medieval world. But Bede's works are by no means all that has survived from the 'Golden Age': almost miraculously - given the intense industrialisation of the surrounding landscape over the last two hundred years - large parts of the original churches survive at both sites and archaeological research has demonstrated that much more lies buried around and beneath them. This unparalleled body of evidence makes Wearmouth and Jarrow two of Europe's most important early medieval sites. This book presents the results of new research on the monasteries and their churches. The authors examine the long-lasting effect of their buildings and estates on the surrounding region from the Anglo-Saxon period to the present day. They trace these relationships back through time with new studies of the changing landscape, the monastery precincts, and the surviving structures themselves.
The historical archaeology of Wearmouth and Jarrow reveals how the churches and their communities were rooted in the landscapes of Northumbria, but flourished through links with other parts of Britain and Europe. The project involved researchers from many different backgrounds. The landscape between the Rivers Tyne and Wear was analysed by integrating information from historic maps with evidence from aerial survey and archaeology through digital mapping. The open areas around the two churches were studied using geophysical, geoarchaeological and palaeoenvironmental surveys to help model ancient land surfaces and understand the changing natural environment. The project not only revealed the links between the churches and the region's political and economic history, but also showed how their cultural significance for local people in north-east England has changed over time.
Publisher: University of Hertfordshire Press