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date: 18 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores the occupation, exploitation, and transformation of European wetland environments from the Migration Period (AD 400–600), through the early Middle Ages to the end of the medieval period. It shows that social elites, whether Migration Period chieftains, proto-feudal medieval knight-farmers, or medieval bishops and lords, were all engaged in wetland settlement, exploitation, and transformation. However, most of what we see archaeologically was actually created by ordinary people – local peasant communities, labourers, and fishermen – working within their own traditions of practice and ingenuity. The wetland archaeological investigation of medieval crannogs or fish weirs, with their excellent chronological evidence, provides unique insights into the cultural biographies of places and objects, and the ways that people coped with dynamic wetland environments. Finally, it was in the medieval period that Europe's wetlands started to be reclaimed, as coastal marshes, bogs and river flood plains were diked, drained, and managed in engineering terms, transforming wetland environments which had existed since prehistory.

Keywords: settlement, occupation, European wetlands, medieval period, reclamation, social elites

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