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Abstract

A carefully contextualized reading of the four surviving Anglo-Saxon law codes issued in the seventh century, three from Kent and one from Wessex, shows the body of legislation they contain to be coherent and practical, and to support subtle insights into social relationships, processes of social change, and areas of social stress in that period. The importance of archaeological evidence, in particular that concerning the use and significance of materials and artefacts, and developments in settlement structures and the overall settlement pattern, is particularly emphasized.