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Fishing and Managing the Trent in the Medieval Period (7th–14th Century)

Excavations at Hemington Quarry (1998–2000), Castle Donington, UK

Lynden P. Cooper and Susan Ripper with contributions by Matt Beamish, Jennifer Browning, Nicholas J. Cooper, Robert Howard, Patrick Marsden, Angela Monckton, Anita Radini and Deborah Sawday
Publication Year:
96 pages, Illustrated throughout in colour and black and white. 15 tables, 87 figures (59 in colour)
BAR number:


Towards the end of the 20th century, sand and gravel extraction in the Middle Trent moved from the higher terrace gravels down onto the wide floodplain zone. The lower Hemington terrace gravels presented waterlogged conditions with excellent preservation of riverine structures, organic artefacts and ecofacts. One of the first discoveries occurred at Hemington Quarry in 1985: a 12th century mill dam and vertical water mill. An ongoing watching brief recorded many riverine structures and culminated in the discovery of three medieval bridges. The present book describes the discoveries from 1998 to 2000 of numerous medieval riverine structures. Three fish weir complexes of the late 7th-12th centuries produced rare evidence for the capture of migrating silver eels. A 12th-century mill dam was later reused as a basket fishery. A series of stone and timber bank-side structures of the 14th century reflect a change in fishing technology: the cribs were used to manage the river and provide river conditions suitable for net fishing.

Lynden Cooper and Susan Ripper have worked in commercial archaeology since the late 1980s, mostly directing urban and rural sites in Leicestershire. They co-directed work for the Hemington Bridges project and the alluvial archaeology featured in this volume. Latterly, Lynden has researched Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic sites in the region. Susan is now a freelance archaeologist and archaeological illustrator, and specialises in recording timber technology.

‘This report is short, accessible and well-illustrated.’ Paul Stamper, Medieval Archaeology, 62.1, 2018

‘This short but excellent report makes the latest contribution to the emerging picture of intensive early and high medieval activity along the middle Trent…University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS) should again be congratulated on an exemplary presentation of material that must have been challenging to excavate and interpret.’ John Blair, Medieval Settlement Research, Vol 33. Nov 2018

‘The British Archaeological Reports series is an excellent way of enabling readers to explore archaeological results without having to devour the full, formal and technical reports of excavations…This report…offers a rare opportunity to glimpse how medieval people made the most of natural resources…Although there are many documentary references to fisheries, this survival of archaeological remains and evidence for relationships with bridges, mills and the riverine landscape of the Trent is exceptional, and potentially of interest to people who fish as well as archaeologists.’ Yolanda Courtney, Leicestershire Historian 2018

‘This report is important as it presents a comprehensive record of the excavation and analysis of these wetland sites with their associated remarkably well-preserved structures and material culture. … Anyone interested in the history/archaeology/material culture of fishing will want this book!’ Professor Stephen Rippon, University of Exeter

‘The exploitation of rivers in the Middle Ages remains a rather incompletely understood subject, both from an historical and also archaeological point of view. The work at Hemington Quarry is beginning to emerge as extraordinarily important in this field.’ Dr Mark Gardiner, University of Lincoln

‘The data is excellent, with top class recording of genuinely amazing archaeological materials. … [This work] is very significant for anyone interested in medieval archaeology and economy, in riverine or wetland archaeology, and in the archaeology of fishweirs.’ Professor Aidan O’Sullivan, University College Dublin

‘The waterlogged wood material is exceptionally well preserved. It has also been carefully recorded and the evidence is well presented. … Overall it is an important contribution to our knowledge of medieval fishing and river management.’ Peer Reviewer

Table of Contents (B633_9781407316178_ToC.pdf, 117 Kb) [Download]