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Estate patterns and estate origins in the second half of the

Centrum och sammanhang, s. 109-138.

Extinguished solar systems and black holes: traces

inspiration of his scholarly ventures was how-ever, no doubt U1e running of bis own e tate in Meckl.enburg. ldeas of rational di position of agricultural domain had swepl through north-we tern Eur pe with its beginning agen ration earlier than von Thunen's. Wealthy landowners bad reorgani ed their e rate along the arne prin iples a von Thunen' isolated state. 1f we implify il a liltle, rhe model wa indeed a magnificd cstate mode!. Allh ugh the thinking of the reformers of the 18th century concerning agricullural planning was innovative in ·everal a pect , the basic idea wcre not new. The superiority oflhe arronde domain over disper ·ed bolding wa reali-ed already during Antiquity.

The form and the tructure of the domain was important as abasis for economical power. From this basis a platform for an important po ition in society could be attained.

In the comparative history of estates we find examples of processes of formation of fused esta-tes and of the disintegration of estaesta-tes. The development of stronger individual rights and the relative hortage of lab ur force in the later part of the Middle Ages, mast eon iderably contributed to this fragmentation of holding . There is however, a continuous coexistence of centrifugal and centripetal dynami.c . When we try lO go back into the early hi tory of estates in the temperate region· of Medieval Europe, we are confronted with great difficultie . The written sources arefew (Verhulst 1985). BeforeAD 1000, large parts of Europe were mute. From the Carolingian Period and from lhe 10th century, we have a few documents giving us the pos ibilily Lo look into a detailed estate organisation. Rightly famous are the Carolingian polyptycs describing the property mainly f ecclesia tical institutions (Morimoto 1988). Some early charters from the continent and from England also contribute to a certain outline of the features of estates in the centuries before AD 1000. The structure ofthese mainly ecclesia Lical estate is strongly influenced by their origin in a complex of donations. Some f these e tate complexe obviou ly have everal nuclei. The Carolingian monasteries, which form the majority of the owner institutions, certainly had high economical ambitions and tried to control the production and access to various

importanl resources. These ambition may have led them to incrca e the diver ity f their holdi.ngs through expansion into region with pecialised production (e.g. clotfrprodu ing area of Fri ia) and to place with good foreign ontact (e.g.

harbour plot in Dorestad) in a way which was not typical of secular e. tate except on the very highest political leve!.

The structure of the ordinary early estate of the upper tratum of the lay p pulation of the Merowiogian and Carolingian period on the conlinent and of the Middle and Late Saxon pe1iod in England remain · ob cUJe. H i however clear that a frequent pattern wa the manor with dependent or emi-dependent closely ituated farm wiUl certain obligation for the maintenance of the manar. The ideal model is no doubt the central manar, often in a village, with satellite subordinate farms or hamlets. It is a variant of the solar system model. The roats of the Early Medieval manar have been much debated both among historians and archaeologists. Was it based on the Late Roman estate and was it later as a model transferred into the Barbarian lands to the east of the Rhine or did it have its roats in rural settlements with a long tradition of the upper u·ata among the Barbarian them elves?

llappearscl ar thatLateRoman villae ometimes are connected wilh later important setllernents but there is no rule that so is the case. This is not a result of historical studies but revelations from archaeological fieldwork. The historians have however shown us that same Roman families became part of the Merowingian upper stratum and po ibly kept parts of their old estates.

Dominant farms have however, been identified in Barbarian settlements. The mast celebrated example is the ''Herrenhof' at Feddersen Wierde of the Roman lron Age (Haarnagel 1979), but there are also other contemporary examples. An indigenou. -at lea. t partly -Barbarian origin i thu pos ible, although we cann l define more clo ely the relations between tbe owner of lhe dominant farm complex and od1er inhabitants.

Later written sources, especially the Middle and Late Saxon laws in England indicate a variety of relationship , often of emi-dependent tatus.

This picture of early estates i also indicated in continental Germanic Law . The fäet thal Lhis

structure is apparent in some of the earliest Anglo-Saxon laws strongly suggests that it is rather connected with traditions in the social system of the Anglo-Saxons than a recent loan from somehow hibemating ideas of the Late an economy in England. Although the Late Rom-an estate structure may have been locally important in those parts of the Merowingian Realm, which were situated inside the old Roman frontier, it consequently seems more likely that the emergence during the Merowingian Period of manars and estates all over Anglo-Saxon Eng-land and throughout Merowingia to the Slavic barder lands mainly must be regarded as a pro-cess starting in fäet much earlier to the east of the Limes and it was perhaps brought to Eng-land in an embryonic form with the Anglian and Saxon chieftains. Unfortunately the archaeo-logical documentation of the estates of the 6th and 7th centuries is almost non existent. The palace at Yeavering in Northumbria is the odd exception. Archaeological investigations in Eng-land and on the continent have not been organi-sed on a scale that would allow the reconstruction of a pattem of related settlements around a manar or a palace. Only in the case oflngelheim on the Rhine there has been an attempt to see the "Pfalz"

as a complex estate structure which in addition to the palace itself included several surrounding villages or hamlets, a landing on the Rhine and a hunting preserve (Weidemann 1975).

The stratum connected with palaces, manors and dominant farms in Anglo-Saxon England and in Merowingia was composed of highly heterogeneous groups of persons and families including Roman aristocracy, traditional regio-nal (sometimes tribal) Barbarian leaders as well as faithful and skilled warriors and administrators raised from obscure origins by kings and chiefs.

The top stratum was that of these kings and chiefs. Their power to a large extent was based on their abilities to keep together and dominate an adequate number of retainers to maintain domi-nion over larger or smaller territories. There is general agreement that these relationships for-med intricate structures of hierarchy. There was a multitude of lords on diverse levels from the top almost down to the bottom. There is less agreement on how these structures were held

together. Many scholars have stressed the importance in Merowingia and Anglo-Saxon Eng-land of the 6th to 8th centuries of successful externa! and interna! warfare resulting in access to valuables and prisoners which could be tur-ned into additional valuables. These valuables could be distributed among the followers in ord-er to strengthen bands. It has often been suggested that also prestige goods acquired through long distance trade were used in similar ways. Exactly how this could be organised remains unclear. How could trade goods enter the sphere of gifts? What was the relationship between lords and agents of trade? Anyway it is most likely that lords on different levels tried to profit from existing trade. It has often been maintained that these were the media used to make the system move especially in the 5th and 6th centuries. Already in the 6th century however written sources indicate that estates are becoming important as power bases. As already stressed on the continent these estates developed into the large estate complexes reflected in the Carolingian polyptycs. For England Domesday Book gives a certain idea of the structure of estates in the preceding centuries.

The idea that control and ownership of large tracts of land already at a rather low level in the hierarchy of lords was central for a position of power is not new. Already the historian Dannen-bauer concluded that there could be no retainers without the control of considerable landed wealth (Dannenbauer 1941). This does not mean that the importance of giftgiving based on externa!

acquisition of wealth must be played down. What we must question is the exaggerated polarisa-tion of two complementary modes of founding a position of power and the grossly overstating of one of them. It has also been negative that an evolutionist scheme has been outlined which suggests a development from the externa! mode of acquisition of wealth to an interna! (Lindquist 1983). The inspiration is of course Marxist with its partiality for simplified evolutionist sequences of contradictory stages. In fäet the agricultural basis was always important. The beautiful gold ring and the magnificent sword were gifts which bound persons and families together but any number of retainers would like to have their daily

beer and pork chops to be content. With other words landed wealth comes first and is the basis for political dominion.

After the. e eon iderations of the character of landed estates in England and on the Continent we shall now tum to Scandinavia. For Scandi-navia the earliest texts telling something about landed estates appear only in the closing 11 th century. These earliest informations specify some donations of the Danish royal family to ecclesiastical institutions (Karlsson 1965). They tel1 little about the structure of these estates.

Manars and tenant farms are not specified.

Probably this is not significant. Somewhat later sources indicate that estates often comprised whole villages with numerous farms anda dom-inating manor (Ulsig 1968).

Is there a relationship between these manars of the 11 th and 12th centuries and earlier manorial estates? Early literary sources have little weight while realia in the relevant poems and sagas may be supposed to be strongly adopted to the spe-cial frames of reference of the Medieval Icelanders (in the case of the sagas) and to profoundly Christian Late Saxons (in the case of Beowulf).

In Scandinavian Medieval archaeology the question of a continuity backward in time for Early Medieval estates have mostly been nega-tively evaluated. In prehistoric archaeology a more positive assessment has become prevailing.

This question was the subject of a project developed by the author some thirty years ago.

It never could be funded. Some positive evidence was however collected by the author (Callmer 1992). Supporting historical-geographical studies were published by RidderspotTe (1989). The argu-ments have been further developed i.a. by Fabech who suggests a general continuity mode! for landed estates consisting of villages with manars as centres of cult practices changing from heat-hen to Christian but on principle connected with the church of the manor and earlier with the hall ofthe lord (1991).

Do the Scandinavian Late Iron Age estates have a long continuity backward into the Roman Iron Age or are the estate structures a loan from the continent only in the late prehistoric phase or even a development of the transition to the Middle Ages? As we have already seen there is

much to suggest that the later alternative as a covering explanation is unlikely. In this perspec-tive it is of great interest to consider the centres of the Scandinavian Late Iron Age with this background of comparative information from Anglo-Saxon England and from the continent.

Do these centres have a complex structure ofthe solar system type ordo they only consist of the central settlement itself? Earlier research has concentrated on these !arge and rich settlements.

In our review of the centres our interest will be concentrated on relative location, settlement size, interna! stmcture ( very little is known), chronology and continuity into later periods. The agricultural potential of the surroundings will also be briefly considered in a few cases.

We have already been confronted with the two different basic structures of land holding:

the compact estate and the dispersed holdings.

Although the main development in the Medieval Pe1iod including the Ref01111ation Period was from compact to dispersed and then back again to compact according to the results ofUlsig (1968), it is clear that }arge, principally dispersed estates comprising numerous different parts including compact units existed quite early. So the un-fortunately little studied royal domain of the svear, "Uppsala öd", has been ascribed an early Viking Period or even earlier date for its core parts. The patrimonial domain of the Danish kings in Jutland and on Funen has also been given an early date whereas the official royal domain is thought to be connected with the expansion towards the east of the kingdom in the 10th century (Andren 1983). With these examples we have, however, entered another size dimension, with which we will only be marginally concerned. What will interest us here are more the nuclei of estate organisations not necessarily the complete estate. For most fo1ms of agricultural production it is as von Thunen so well knew the minimisation of transport especially for the la-bour intensive parts of it, which counts. This means that the ideal complex estate consists of a centre and surrounding secondary settlements.

In a featureless and undifferentiated environment this estate form would result in a perfect solar model. This we cannot expect to find in reality but rather modified applications according to

landscape features, the goodness of the soil and, of course, the historical development of the estate. With regard to the close relationship between the late prehistoric settlement and the earliest Medieval settlement (Callmer 1986) it should be possible to find traces of these patterns in a diverse source material including early historical settlement data, archaeological prospection and excavation data and place names. It should be characteristic of these traces of estate structures that the centre after its heyday is much reduced in relative size and qualities. What could remain is above all the structure i.e. an eclipsed solar system. We may also set up the possibility of a complete reduction of the centre. This could result in a gap in the settled landscape - a black hole -but still visible.

The later division of the territory of the centre would leave distinct traces in boundaries and perhaps in names. Only a reestablishment of settlement after a hiatus on the same spot and with a new name would cause serious problems.