Emporium (early medieval)

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The term 'emporia' (singular 'emporium') is applied to trading settlements which emerged in north-western Europe in the sixth to seventh centuries, and persisted into the ninth century. Also known in English as 'wics', the emporia are characterised by their peripheral locations, usually on the shore at the edge of a kingdom, their lack of infrastructure (typically they contained no churches) and their short-lived nature, since by the year 1000, the emporia had been replaced by the revival of European towns. Examples of emporia include Dorestad, Quentovic, Gipeswic, Hamwic, and Lundenwic (for which see Anglo-Saxon London). Their role in the economic history of western Europe remains debated. Their most famous exponent has been the British archaeologist Richard Hodges.


  • Anglo-Saxon Trading Centres: Beyond the Emporia. Edited by Mike Anderton, Glasgow: Cruithne Press, 1999.
  • Hill, D., and R. Cowie, eds. Wics: The Early Medieval Trading Centres of Northern Europe (Sheffield, 2001).
  • Richard Hodges, Dark Age Economics: The Origins of Towns and Trade A.D. 600–1000 (London: Duckworth, 1982).