Paxton Before the House Project Begins
Barry Evans and his 'geofizz' machine!
08 November 2010
An exciting new project to explore the prehistory and history of Hutton parish begins in the Scottish Borders!
The ‘Paxton Before the House‘ project is a community based study of the prehistoric and Medieval heritage of Hutton parish in the Scottish Borders. Little is known of the archaeological remains here, but we have tantalising evidence of a complex political and economic re-organisation occurring sometime before AD 1000 based on the place-names. One of the curiosities of this parish is that almost all the place-names derive from the Germanic family of languages–namely, the Anglian language that was presumably introduced to the region by immigrants that came to form the kingdom of Bernicia which, after some spectacular military victories, was transformed into the kingdom of Northumbria. No indications of the preceding Celtic family of languages occurs in the parish, although these are encountered in the surrounding region. This has led us to consider the possibility that the villages were founded in the Anglo-Saxon period by migrants, but how did this process unfold ?
One hypothesis that will be explored is that the population did not fundamentally change, that is to say, there was no profound displacement of the native population by immigrant groups. Instead, it might be that there was a move towards slightly more nucleated settlement because of changes in economic structure. If this is so, though, what of the native settlements that were occupied before the transformations occasioned by the arrival of the Anglian settlers and warlords ? Was there severe economic discontinuity, or was the change in settlement structure governed by social and defensive considerations ? Some of the same questions arise when we look at the nature of settlement in the twelfth century and onward, but in these periods the agents of change might have been the Black Death and the destruction wrought by the Anglo-Scots Wars and the political instability that prevailed here even in times of relative peace and stability.
We intend to explore these issues, and others that might arise from the discovery of prehistoric evidence. The project is led by volunteers at every level, supported by specialists which will provide training so that when the project has run its course, they are able to start their own projects and explore other matters of interest and significance. We welcome volunteers to participate in the excavations, do the archival research and scientific analyses. If you are interested, please do not hesitate to contact us !
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Paxton Before the House Blog