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Archaeological periods of time

The time periods used within the database are summarised here, and are based on the definitions produced by the English Heritage Periods list.


This period is characterised by the practice of farming and the appearance of large monumental displays. The Neolithic covers the period 4000-2200BC. It is preceded by the Mesolithic period, and is followed by the Bronze Age.

Bronze Age

The period of time characterised by an increase in bronze working, covering the period 2600-700BC in the UK. The Bronze Age follows on from the Neolithic  period and is followed by the Iron Age.

Iron Age

The period of time characterised by an increase in iron working, and the appearance of monuments such as hillforts. The Iron Age of England covers the period 800BC-AD43, ending on the arrival of the Roman armies. In areas of the UK less affected by the Roman  invasion, such as Scotland, the Iron Age continues into the 8th century AD until the arrival of Norse  populations from Scandinavia. The Iron Age follows on from the Bronze Age.

Roman period

This period begins in Britain with the Roman invasion of Claudius in AD43, and ends in AD410 with Honorius's withdrawal of the legions. The Roman period is preceded by the Iron Age, and followed by the Early Medieval  period.

Early Medieval period

The Early Medieval period began following the breakdown of Roman power in AD410, and ended with the Norman invasion in AD1066. The term 'Early Medieval' can be used for sites/monuments dating to the Saxon  and Viking/Norse date.

Anglo-Saxon period

The Anglo-Saxon period is associated with the invasion of Germanic Saxon tribes in the 5th century AD, and continues until the Norman  invasion in AD1066.

Viking period

The period where groups left Scandinavia to raid other areas, covering the 8th-11th centuries AD. Documentary sources from England have placed the first raids in AD793 when the abbey on Lindisfarne was raided, but Viking activity may have started earlier in the northern islands of Scotland.

Norse period

This period occurred after the Viking period  and marks the point when groups of Scandinavian people settled in the UK.

Medieval period

The Medieval period started with the Norman invasion in AD1066 and ended with the dissolution of the monasteries in AD1540.

Norman period

The Norman period marks the Norman conquest of Britain by William, Duke of Normandy in AD1066, and continues until AD1154.

Tudor period

Period of time between AD1485 and 1603 when Britain was ruled by the Tudor monarchs.

Post-Medieval period

The period covers the period AD1540-1901, beginning with the dissolution of the monasteries and ends with the death of Queen Victoria.

Elizabethan period

Period of time between AD1558-1603 when England was ruled by Elizabeth I.

Jacobean period

The period between AD1603-1625 when England was ruled by James I of England (VI of Scotland).

Victorian period

Dating to the period between AD1837-1901 when Great Britain was ruled by Queen Victoria.

Edwardian period

Period of time between AD1901-1910 when Great Britain was ruled by King Edward VII.

Twentieth century

The period of time between AD1901-2000.

Archaeological features

A list of archaeological features (in alphabetical order) that may be suitable for archaeomagnetic dating. The definitions of the features are based on the MDA 'Archaeological Object type thesaurus'.

  • Floor
  • Furnace
  • Hearth
  • Heated deposit
  • Hypocaust
  • Kiln
  • Oven
  • Silt


Some floor surfaces may become burnt.


A chamber in which minerals, metals etc, are subjected to the continuous action of intense heat. Examples include annealing, glass, and foundry furnaces.


The slab or place on which a fire is made.

Heated deposit

Heated deposits that do not conform to the other formal definitions and may relate to an area of heat-reddened material.


A Roman under-floor heating system.


A furnace or oven used for burning, baking or drying. Examples include pottery, brick, clamp or lime kilns.


A place for cooking.


Fine particles of material accumulating in negative features, such as ditches, pits, and lake sediments.