Baker John - Brookes Stuart - Beyond the Burghal Hidage

Authors : Baker John - Brookes Stuart
Title : Beyond the Burghal Hidage Anglo-Saxon civil defence in the Viking Age
Year : 2013

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Preface. This book is one of the outcomes of a project funded by the Leverhulme Trust for three years from 2005. The principal aim of that project - one which is reflected throughout this text - was to add detail to the military landscapes of later Anglo-Saxon England, in particular the period of the “First Viking Age” (c. AD 793–900). It was our intention to bring a multidisciplinary and landscape-focused approach to this subject, which has for a long time been dominated by documentary historians (particularly those with military interests) and by urban archaeologists. We felt, and still do, that a landscape perspective has the potential to add substance to many of the disparate finds, phenomena, and events, that characterize this dynamic and momentous period. In attempting to make sense of this large corpus of data, and to reconcile the testimony of the various sources, we have tried to maintain an awareness of strategic and logistical considerations, and to recognize that differences of landscape, terrain, political, and military aims, and the degree and nature of the threat, impose varying requirements on military planners, and result in diverse responses. Throughout this book we have sought to reveal something of the “grand strategy” of early medieval Wessex, that is to say, its “allocation of resources among various military and policy goals” (Kagan 2006, 333). To that end, we have attempted to explain why fortifications and their logistical support systems were sited where they were, what their character was, and what we can deduce from this about their strategic purpose and the plan of civil defences. This idea of “grand strategy” formed the basis of an approach championed by Edward Luttwak in his Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire (1976). Although Luttwak’s analysis of Roman military landscapes itself is now largely discredited (Gruen 1978; Wells 1978; Lendon 2002; Whittaker 2004; Kagan 2006), “grand strategy” nevertheless strikes us as a useful way by which the full breadth and range of early medieval military phenomena can be placed into an interpretative framework. ...

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