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Stories from the Edge

Creating Identities in Early Medieval Staffordshire

Matthew Blake
Publication Year:
126 pages, 141 pages, Illustrated throughout in colour and black and white. 79 figures.
BAR number:


Stories from the Edge identifies a methodology to illuminate the early medieval history of places that lack the compelling evidence to be included in national surveys of the period. It demonstrates that even in seemingly unpromising places something can be said about the people of the period.  In landscape terms it is a study of the little world, the local, the manorial complex with its church and burial place, a micro-topography, investigating the construction of social memory.  Through this we see the way the early medieval landscape was perceived and how people engaged with it in a creative and imaginative series of responses.  Their past and present were negotiated and expressed through the landscape. It is about stories and storytelling, about the creation of memory, the invention of home, spirituality and social hierarchy.  This study re-tells some of those stories and recaptures the early medieval sense of place in Pirehill.  Above all though, this is an account of living in a mutable landscape and the stories people once told there.

Matthew Blake completed his PhD at Leicester University in 2017. He has also published on place-names ('W(e)alh tūn balancing the probabilities') and jointly with Dr Andrew Sargent on the 10th century burhs of Æthelflaed as well as an edition of the Memoranda book of Thomas Worswick (d. 1626).  He is the Honorary Secretary for the Staffordshire Record Society.

‘Blake takes up the challenge of compiling and interrogating very varied forms of evidence – archaeological, documentary, cartographic, place-name – to propose not only a new understanding of this region, but also a new methodological approach to under-researched areas. The result is a meticulous and thoroughly referenced volume.’ Dr Mark McKerracher, Medieval Settlement Research, Vol 36 (2021)

‘It is a particularly good demonstration of how an “unpromising” landscape might be made to speak quite eloquently when different kinds of evidence are considered together and coupled with new ways of seeing.’ Dr Andrew Sargent, Keele University

‘This is a very exciting study, from which I learnt a lot.’ Dr Amanda Richardson, University of Chichester

Table of Contents (B657_9781407316697_ToC.pdf, 250 Kb) [Download]

Introduction (B657_9781407316697_Introduction.pdf, 1,067 Kb) [Download]