IMC 2018: Sessions

Session 104: Early Medieval Burial Culture and the Reuse of Cemeteries

Monday 2 July 2018, 11.15-12.45

Moderator/Chair:Dóra Mérai, Department of Medieval Studies, Central European University, Budapest
Paper 104-aLifecycles, Dress, and Gender in a 6th-Century Early Medieval Cemetery: The Example of Cutry, Meurthe-et-Moselle
(Language: English)
Olga Magoula, Department of History & Archaeology, University of Ioannina
Index terms: Anthropology, Archaeology - Artefacts, Archaeology - Sites, Gender Studies
Paper 104-bFrom Cemetery to Norman Castle: Control Over the Living and the Dead?
(Language: English)
Therron Welstead, School of Archaeology, History & Anthropology, University of Wales Trinity Saint David
Index terms: Archaeology - General, Architecture - Secular
Paper 104-c(Re-)Using the Anglo-Saxon Killing Place: A Comparison of the Archaeological Evidence for the 'Execution Cemetery' and the Historical Evidence for the Cwealmstow
(Language: English)
Alyxandra Mattison, Institute for Medieval Studies, University of Leeds / Department of Archaeology, University of Sheffield
Index terms: Archaeology - Sites, Language and Literature - Old English, Social History

Paper -a:
The paper focuses on a single case study (Cutry, Meurthe-et-Moselle), a settlement with a few generations of inhabitants, to examine how dress was implicated in lifecycles, rites of transition, or as strict or more flexible indicators of femininities/masculinities. The artefactual data is compared with that available osteologically to probe the construction of gender and its negotiation across generations. Transmission of memory and other strategies of communication are explored at a number of levels employing the analysis of artefacts in close relation to the body. The challenges in the interpretation of artefacts and dress accessories in the furnished burials of mature and young individuals will be addressed in the search for their multi-layered identities as expressed in dress in the process of their transitions in life. This analysis was facilitated by accessible archives on osteological and artefactual material which made possible the reconstruction of specific age and gender profiles of individuals.

Paper -b:
One of the often told stories of the coming of the Normans, is that they used castles to subjugate the Anglo-Saxons. Where castles were built on a previously existing settlement, there would have been a choice of what to preserve, if anything, and what to destroy. One aspect of this choice which has been largely ignored in scholarship is the Norman treatment of Anglo-Saxon cemeteries. Drawing from the speaker’s Ph.D. research, this paper examines what happened to an active cemetery when either an enclosing burh was adapted, or a new Norman castle was built on the same site.

Paper -c:
Segregated cemeteries for members of society who were specifically denied normative Christian burial have been archaeologically identified within the Anglo-Saxon landscape. The bodies found in these cemeteries often had twisted or flailed limbs, were sometimes headless, and were generally buried with a lack of respect. The cemeteries were located on the boundaries of communities and on raised topography so to be visible from major travel routes. Their visibility in conjunction with the presence of decapitation victims has led to the suggestion that criminals may have been executed and buried at these locations, and they have subsequently obtained the denomination ‘execution cemeteries’. Radiocarbon dates reveal that the cemeteries were in use for lengthy periods of time and intercutting of deviant burial groups suggests that the burials occurred individually or in small groups throughout the cemeteries’ existence. These places remained for decades, and possibly centuries, in communal memory as locations of exile for the deceased. The Old English term cwealmstow, meaning ‘killing place’, is often used to describe these execution cemeteries. This paper aims to explore the historical evidence for the cwealmstow and compare its role in the Anglo-Saxon lexicon with the archaeological evidence for long term use of execution cemeteries