Early Anglo-Saxon cemeteries

Kinship, community and identity

By Duncan Sayer

Early Anglo-Saxon cemeteries

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-3556-8
  • Pages: 336
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £25.00
  • Published Date: November 2020
  • BIC Category: Archaeology, Archaeology by period / region, Anglo-Saxon period (c 400 to c 1066), HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain / Middle Ages (449-1066), SOCIAL SCIENCE / Death & Dying, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Archaeology, Society & social sciences / Sociology: death & dying, Medieval European Archaeology
  • Series: Social Archaeology and Material Worlds


This book is available as an open access ebook under a CC-BY licence.

Early Anglo-Saxon cemeteries are known for their grave goods, but this abundance obscures their interest as the creations of pluralistic, multi-generational communities. This book explores over one hundred early Anglo-Saxon and Merovingian cemeteries, using a multi-dimensional methodology to move beyond artefacts. It offers an alternative way to explore the horizontal organisation of cemeteries from a holistically focused perspective. The physical communication of digging a grave and laying out a body was used to negotiate the arrangement of a cemetery and to construct family and community stories. This approach foregrounds community, because people used and reused cemetery spaces to emphasise different characteristics of the deceased, based on their own attitudes, lifeways and live experiences. This book will appeal to scholars of Anglo-Saxon studies and will be of value to archaeologists interested in mortuary spaces, communities and social archaeology.


1 Negotiating early Anglo-Saxon cemetery space
2 The syntax of cemetery space
3 Mortuary metre
4 The grammar of graves
5 Intonation on the individual
6 Early Anglo-Saxon community


Duncan Sayer is Professor of Archaeology at the University of Central Lancashire

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