The West Midlands has struggled archaeologically to project a distinct regional identity, having largely been defined by reference to other areas with a stronger cultural identity and history, such as Wessex the South-West, and the North. Only occasionally has the West Midlands come to prominence, for instance in the middle Saxon period (viz. the kingdom of Mercia), or, much later, with rural south Shropshire being the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. Yet it is a region rich in natural mineral resources, set amidst readily productive farmland, and with major rivers, such as the Severn, facilitating transportation. The scale of its later prehistoric monuments, notably the hillforts, proclaims the centralisation of some functions, whether for security, exchange or emulation, while society supported the production and widespread distribution of specialised craft goods. Finally, towards the close of prehistory, localised kingdoms can be seen to emerge into view.
In the course of reviewing the evidence for later prehistory from the Middle Bronze Age to Late Iron Age, the papers presented here adopt a variety of approaches, being either regional, county-wide, or thematic (eg. by site type, or artefactual typology), and they also encompass the wider landscape as reconstructed from environmental evidence. This is the second volume in a series – The Making of the West Midlands – that explores the archaeology of the English West Midlands region from the Lower Palaeolithic onwards. These volumes, based on a series of West Midlands Research Framework seminars, aim to transform perceptions of the nature and significance of the archaeological evidence across a large part of central Britain.
Foreign language summaries
1. Introduction: Westward on the high-hilled plains
2. Cows, beans and the view: landscape and farming of the West Midlands in later prehistory
3. ‘The Bronze Age has lagged behind …’. Late Bronze Age settlement and landscape in the West Midlands
4. Burnt mounds and beyond: the later prehistory of Birmingham and the Black Country
5. Any more old Iron Age? An archaeological resource assessment for the Middle Bronze Age to Iron Age in Warwickshire and Solihull
Stuart C. Palmer
6. Herefordshire: from the Middle Bronze Age to the later Iron Age
Peter Dorling, Keith Ray and Paul White
7. Fugitive pieces: towards a new understanding of the later second and first millennia BC in Shropshire
8. The Late Bronze Age and Iron Age in Staffordshire: the torc of the Midlands?
9. Middle Bronze Age to Late Iron Age Worcestershire
10. An overview of the ceramic basis within the broader West Midlands region
11. The potential of the Portable Antiquities Scheme and treasure finds for understanding the Iron Age in the West Midlands
12. Later prehistoric production and trade in the West Midlands
13. Touching the void: Iron Age landscapes and settlement in the West Midlands