By Andrew Reynolds
Anglo-Saxon Deviant Burial Customs is the 1st exact attention of the ways that Anglo-Saxon society handled social outcasts. starting with the interval following Roman rule and finishing within the century following the Norman Conquest, it surveys a interval of primary social swap, which incorporated the conversion to Christianity, the emergence of the overdue Saxon kingdom, and the advance of the panorama of the Domesday booklet. whereas a powerful physique of written proof for the interval survives within the kind of charters and law-codes, archaeology is uniquely positioned to enquire the earliest interval of post-Roman society, the 5th to 7th centuries, for which records are missing. For later centuries, archaeological facts gives you us with an self reliant evaluation of the realities of capital punishment and the prestige of outcasts. Andrew Reynolds argues that outcast burials exhibit a transparent trend of improvement during this interval. within the pre-Christian centuries, 'deviant' burial continues to be are stumbled on merely in group cemeteries, however the progress of kingship and the consolidation of territories in the course of the 7th century witnessed the emergence of capital punishment and locations of execution within the English panorama. in the neighborhood decided rites, resembling crossroads burial, now existed along extra formal execution cemeteries. Gallows have been situated on significant barriers, frequently subsequent to highways, continually in hugely seen areas. The findings of this pioneering nationwide research therefore have very important outcomes on our realizing of Anglo-Saxon society. total, Reynolds concludes, equipped judicial habit was once a function of the earliest Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, instead of simply the 2 centuries ahead of the Norman Conquest.
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Additional info for Anglo-Saxon Deviant Burial Customs
The term ‘deviant burial’, ﬁrst applied in an English early medieval setting by Helen Geake (1992, 87), is used throughout this book when refering to burial remains of a peculiar or ‘non-normative’ character. Normative burial rites provide benchmarks against which deviant status may be determined. In England, a predominant mode of burial has been established for most archaeological periods and regions, although issues of survival rates of the evidence must be weighed against matters of archaeological visibility of individual burial types.
As will be seen, many of the burials examined in this study support entirely contrasting interpretations, that suggest considered and structured reactions by past populations to the undesirable dead. Indeed, much of the archaeological material brought to bear in this book has been teased out from a variety of perceived chronological and historical contexts and reassembled according to the more rigorous criteria set out below. This chapter thus attempts to provide a detailed archaeological characterization of the evidence for deviant burial and to review previous interpretations.
72) also shows a group of four men with the feet cut off and, more remarkably (fo. 67), shows decapitated bodies apparently buried Sources, approaches, and contexts 29 Fig. 6. The king, his witan and an execution scene. (British Library MS Cotton Claudius BIV f. 59. © British Library Board. All Rights Reserved) Fig. 7. A torture scene and a mound containing decapitated corpses. (British Library MS Harley 603, f. 67. © British Library Board. All Rights Reserved) inside a mound (Fig. 7); the latter drawing is an innovation, and the artist is clearly inﬂuenced by the siting of contemporary places of execution, as will be demonstrated in Chapter 4 (see also Semple 2003).