Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Sunday, 24 January 2021

Anglo-Saxon burial customs

The Mail online has had two reports recently on Anglo-Saxon burial practices and on what contemporaries were doing in such matters on the continent.

The first report is about a major discovery at Overstone in Northamptonshire of an Anglo-Saxon cemetery, together with an associated settlement, which is close to a group of much older, Bronze Age burials. The Anglo-Saxon graves yielded a rich selection of brooches, wrist clasps, rings and other personal items as well as weapons. The discovery is described at Thousands of beads and brooches unearthed from Anglo-Saxon cemetery

The second is about a comparative study of 6th to 8th century burials in western Europe - lowland Britain, France, the Low Countries and Germany - which suggests a rapid change across the area surveyed as people stopped burying their dead with grave goods such as the Northamptonshire finds. This points to a the Christianisation of the whole region in this period. So beginning with St Augustine's arrival in Kent in 597 and the labours of that great English missionary St Boniface and his companions in mid-eighth century Germany a whole culture was significantly refashioned and this was a feature common to virtually the whole region. The article on this study can be read at Early Medieval Europe was surprisingly well connected, study reveals

The BBC History website has a post about Sutton Hoo - linked to the new film The Dig about the discovery in 1939 - and this ties in quite neatly with this latest study. In this account they have Professor Martin Carver talking about the context of the Sutton Hoo burials and how the spread of Christianity from the continent was the backdrop to this 7th-century great burst of activity. “I imagine these mounds must have been very demonstrative. The burials are very extravagant and very richly furnished. They are strong statements about the wish to continue this particular regime, this dynasty, and in some ways there are signs of anxiety of what’s coming from over the Channel,” Carver says. “In other words, a more obvious Christian union, a kind of re-enactment of the Roman empire, which they really don’t want to be part of. So I think that’s why the investment is so big. People are calling to their gods, if you like, for protection.”

No comments: