Anglo-Saxon Deviant Burial Customs by Andrew Reynolds

By Andrew Reynolds

Anglo-Saxon Deviant Burial Customs is the 1st distinctive 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 switch, which integrated the conversion to Christianity, the emergence of the past due Saxon nation, and the improvement of the panorama of the Domesday e-book. whereas a magnificent physique of written facts for the interval survives within the type 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 proof grants us with an self sufficient evaluation of the realities of capital punishment and the prestige of outcasts. Andrew Reynolds argues that outcast burials exhibit a transparent development of improvement during this interval. within the pre-Christian centuries, 'deviant' burial continues to be are came across simply in neighborhood cemeteries, however the development of kingship and the consolidation of territories through the 7th century witnessed the emergence of capital punishment and areas of execution within the English panorama. in the community decided rites, corresponding to crossroads burial, now existed along extra formal execution cemeteries. Gallows have been positioned on significant barriers, frequently subsequent to highways, continually in hugely noticeable locations. The findings of this pioneering nationwide examine therefore have vital effects on our knowing of Anglo-Saxon society. total, Reynolds concludes, geared up judicial habit used to be a function of the earliest Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, instead of simply the 2 centuries sooner than the Norman Conquest.

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174). Swearing a false oath brought with it the denial of burial in consecrated ground (II As 26), a reference which has an important bearing on our understanding of the nature of execution cemeteries. 7). Death could be expected by thieves taking flight and those who might harbour them, whereas free women might be thrown from a cliff or drowned. That the latter penalty could be incurred for witchcraft by the reign of Edgar is demonstrated by a charter of Bishop Æthelwold that records the drowning of a woman at (a) London Bridge between 963 and 975 (quoted at the beginning of this chapter), and also by a lawsuit concerning land in Surrey and Middlesex dated 950 × 68 recording its forfeiture and the drowning of its former owner, a certain Ecgferth, although in the latter case it is not clear if his drowning was a judicial act (S1377 and S1447; Hill 1976a, 303–5; Wormald 1988, nos.

153a; Fig. 3). Late tenth- to late eleventh-century levels at the Old Minster produced two pairs of shackles and one single example, whereas eleventh-century levels associated Fig. 1. Offenders in custody. (British Library MS Harley 603, f. 54v (detail). © British Library Board. All Rights Reserved) 16 Sources, approaches, and contexts Fig. 2. St Peter released from prison by an angel. (British Library MS Cotton Caligula A XIV, f. 22. © British Library Board. All Rights Reserved) with Houses IX and X at Lower Brook Street produced a single find (Goodall 1990a, 1011–14).

While initial interpretations proposed an external strong-room or a prison, the original function is unknown and a more recent appraisal notes that it could have been a storage room or a latrine (Cramp 1976, 232, fig. 10, 234; 2005, 104). Evidence for imprisonment is at best sketchy, but it seems that by the reign of Ine, in Wessex at least, ealdormen might have the responsibility of confining offenders. By the end of the eighth century Mercian evidence suggests prisons on royal estates, a picture that emerges with greater clarity in the laws and other writings of Alfred in the late 800s and in certain saints’ Lives.

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