Where are the wīcs in Old English poetry?

Bintley, M. (2015) Where are the wīcs in Old English poetry? In: Boulton, M., Hawkes, J. and Herman, M., eds. The Art, Literature and Material Culture of the Medieval World: Transition, Transformation and Taxonomy. Dublin: Four Courts Press. ISBN 9781846825613

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Abstract

Although various settlement types and architectural forms are described or alluded to in Old English poetry, there is little evidence for the major wīc sites that have emerged from the archaeological record in recent decades, which can be broadly defined as large, pre-Viking mercantile settlements characterized by a harbour. This chapter will begin by discussing the various meanings of the term wīc, before outlining the form of the maritime and riparian settlements at Southampton, London, Ipswich and York to which it was attached. This evidence will then be contrasted with the lack of evidence for their existence in Old English poetry, from which, although they are almost entirely absent, there remains some indication of how they may have been perceived. The discussion concludes by suggesting several possible reasons for this absence: the gradual pace of their development and decline; their possible lack of distinction from other contemporary settlements and attendant power structures; a functionality which did not merit poetic celebration; or simply the familiar difficulties associated with the dating and survival of Old English poetry.

Item Type: Book Section
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain > DA0020 England > DA0028 History > DA0129 By period > DA0130 Early and medieval to 1485
P Language and Literature > PE English > PE0101 Anglo-Saxon. Old English
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Depositing User: Dr Michael Bintley
Date Deposited: 16 Jul 2015 15:54
Last Modified: 16 Jul 2015 15:54
URI: https://create.canterbury.ac.uk/id/eprint/13572

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00