HIS-30135 - The Making of Middle Britain: The Mercian Moment
Coordinator: Andrew Sargent Tel: +44 1782 7 33199
Lecture Time: See Timetable...
Level: Level 6
Credits: 15
Study Hours: 150
School Office: 01782 733147

Programme/Approved Electives for 2023/24


Available as a Free Standing Elective






Barred Combinations


Description for 2023/24

During the seventh, eighth and ninth centuries Britain was dominated by two rival kingdoms: Northumbria and Mercia. Their eventful histories encompassed the trials and tribulations of their royal dynasties, but the people of these kingdoms witnessed much more than an elite soap opera. This period witnessed the ascendency of a new aristocracy, with both secular and religious faces, which would re-shape the landscape of early medieval Britain and become a dynamic part of a broader northwest-European culture. Students will study the `long eighth century¿, when the kingdom of the Anglian Mercians began to overshadow Northumbria, and will investigate the different kinds of evidence needed to understand this period: textual, archaeological, toponymical, topographical. The relationship between the Mercians (especially King Offa) and the Anglo-Saxon Church will form a particular focus, and students will evaluate whether Anglian hegemony during this period was primarily a secular or religious phenomenon.

The module aims to critically evaluate the historiographical narrative of Mercian rise and fall over the 'long eighth century'. Students will reflect critically on the nature of the sources that underpin this narrative, and will explore other approaches to the period. In particular, they will examine the idea that Mercian hegemony was as much a religious as a secular phenomenon.

Intended Learning Outcomes


Study hours

24 hours - seminars
50 hours - preparation for seminars (reading and preparing presentations)
26 hours - research and preparation of essay
50 hours - research and preparation of primary source commentary

School Rules


Description of Module Assessment

1: Essay weighted 40%
1700-word essay
Students will write ONE 1700-word essay from a choice of EIGHT.

2: Commentary weighted 60%
Primary source commentary
Students will complete primary source commentary, 2400 words in total, commenting on TWO sources from a list of EIGHT