Birmingham City Council

Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Birmingham

AD410-1550

The archaeological evidence for the Anglo-Saxon period (AD 410-1066) in Birmingham currently consists solely of an iron spearhead from Edgbaston. Pollen at Longbridge shows what the Anglo-Saxon landscape looked like. However, most of the early place-names in Birmingham are of Anglo-Saxon origin, showing that there were settlements within the area of the modern city during this period. These may not necessarily have occupied the same sites as later villages, therefore it is difficult to predict their location.

Archaeological remains of the medieval period

By contrast, the relatively numerous archaeological remains of the medieval period (AD 1066-1550) in Birmingham consist of surviving buildings, earthworks and excavated remains. The area around St Martin Church was an important market and industrial town in the Middle Ages.

Although there is little visible above ground today, some of the medieval street pattern still survives and substantial remains of medieval date have been found in excavations as part of the Bullring development and elsewhere in Digbeth and Deritend. These have revealed structures, objects and residues which provide evidence of industries and of deliberate and planned expansion of the town.

On some sites water logging has resulted in the survival of organic remains such as wooden linings of pits and other timber features, leather off cuts and seeds. Although very little archaeological work has yet taken place in the other medieval town within the modern city, Sutton Coldfield, the discovery of a medieval oven demonstrated the survival of archaeological remains here.

Medieval Buildings

Buildings of medieval origin survive in many parts of the City, including stone-built churches and timber-framed buildings such the Saracen Head in Kings Norton. Detailed survey and tree-ring dating has demonstrated the survival of more timber framed buildings than were previously known.

The excavated remains of a fortified manor house at Weoley Castle are of national importance. Remains of other medieval buildings have been found in excavations in Kings Norton and inside moats at Kents Moat in Yardley and Hawkesley Farm in Northfield. Remains of a medieval field system were found in excavations at Peddimore. Some of Birmingham medieval remains survive as earthworks, including deer park boundary banks and ditches in Sutton Park, moated sites, and ridge and furrow which although common in other parts of the country is relatively rare in Birmingham.

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Last Updated :15th October 2012

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