Robin Fleming, ‘Elites, Boats and Foreigners’ (and the Walton on Thames logboat)

Signing up to is starting to pay real dividends, at least in terms of being able to read full versions of articles and so forth as an “independent researcher” without a personal or institutional subscription to the big bad online portals I moaned about on more than one occasion last year.

Today I found and read an essay by Robin Fleming, ‘Elites, Boats and Foreigners: Rethinking the Rebirth of English Towns’, published in 2009 as a chapter of the collected proceedings of a conference held in Italy the previous year – in other words the kind of thing I would NEVER have known about otherwise. (I presume you don’t need to have an profile to read it – past experience has taught me articles uploaded to Scribd can be accessed from a Google search results page.) It appraises a wide range of often well-known and much-discussed evidence from a different, before-rather-than-after-the-fact angle, which appeals to me as it’s the way I approach a lot of my more localised research – compare it with John Naylor’s 2004 paper ‘Access to international trade in Middle Saxon England: a case of overemphasis?’, another find. On a personal level, it concerns a period of great relevance to my current interest in ingas names, and on things to do with Old English tun as a place-name element which I’ve been mulling over on and off for the past few years.

What is more, the reference to a sizeable sixth-century logboat found at Walton on Thames (pp. 421-22) is something I had not come across before. I checked on English Heritage’s PastScape database and found more details about the find, made in 1966. That it was found close to the north bank strictly speaking means that it cannot be claimed for the historic county, but pedantry aside, it’s an artefact of enormous significance to suggesting how the River Thames was used in the early Anglo-Saxon period. In fact, it may even warrant a trip upstream to the River and Rowing Museum at Henley-on-Thames (where else?) to see the boat in all its conserved glory.

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