Mortuary Practices and Social Identities in the Middle Ages

BookMortuary Practices and Social Identities in the Middle Ages

Mortuary Practices and Social Identities in the Middle Ages

Exeter Studies in Medieval Europe


November 27th, 2009



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This book sets a new agenda for mortuary archaeology. Applying explicit case studies based on a range of European sites (from Scandinavia to Britain, Southern France to the Black Sea), 'Mortuary Practices and Social Identities in the Middle Ages' fulfills the need for a volume that provides accessible material to students and engages with current debates in mortuary archaeology's methods and theories. The book builds upon Heinrich Härke’s influential research on burial archaeology and early medieval migrations, focusing in particular on his ground-breaking work on the relationship between the theory and practice of burial archaeology. Using diverse archaeological and historical data, the essays explore how mortuary practices have served in the make-up and expression of medieval social identities. Themes explored include masculinity, kinship, ethnicity, migration, burial rites, genetics and the perception of landscape.

An engaging and stimulating collection of value for the serious student of the subject.
Christopher Scull, British Archaeology, May/June 2010

British Archaeology, May/June 2010

Author Information

Duncan Sayer is lecturer in archaeology at the University of Central Lancashire where his principal interest is in Anglo-Saxon cemeteries and burial archaeology. He is author of 'Ethics and Burial Archaeology' (Duckworth, 2010) and editor of 'The Archaeology of Post-Medieval Religion' (Boydell, 2011). Howard Williams is Professor of Archaeology at the University of Chester. He has published widely on medieval and mortuary archaeology and is author of 'Death and Memory in Early Medieval Britain' (Cambridge University Press, 2006).

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Title Page4
Copyright Page5
List of figures8
Chapter 1. ‘Halls of mirrors’: death and identity in medieval archaeology16
Chapter 2. Working with the dead38
Chapter 3. Beowulf and British prehistory53
Chapter 4. Fighting wars, gaining status: on the rise of Germanic elites61
Chapter 5. ‘Hunnic’ modified skulls: physical appearance, identity and the transformative nature of migrations79
Chapter 6. Rituals to free the spirit – or what the cremation pyre told96
Chapter 7. Barrows, roads and ridges – or where to bury the dead? The choice of burial grounds in late Iron Age Scandinavia119
Chapter 8. Anglo-Saxon DNA?138
Chapter 9. Laws, funerals and cemetery organisation: the seventh-century Kentish family156
Chapter 10. On display: envisioning the early Anglo-Saxon dead185
Chapter 11. Variation in the British burial rite: ad 400–700222
Chapter 12. Anglo-Saxon attitudes: how should post-ad 700 burials be interpreted?237
Chapter 13. Rethinking later medieval masculinity: the male body in death251