English Heritage and the Archaeological Data Service have teamed up to make 84 past monographs available online for FREE. Despite some atrocious quality to the reproduction of the older reports (you really do feel like you are peering through the mists of time to read them), they are packed full of valuable archaeological data and interpretations of use for students, scholars and the wider public. Access them here.
Amidst this 84, there is plenty of archaeodeath to read about, from prehistoric to medieval times. Amidst these, there are a refreshingly large number are on early medieval mortuary practices, directly or indirectly. Here are some highlights for those early medieval mortuary maniacs among you:
Let me know your favourite!
- Hambledon Hill – great if you like your Neolithic causewayed enclosures, long barrows and all that stuff, but also interesting for a small early Anglo-Saxon inhumation cemetery excavated on the hill-top too!
- Iron Age Cemeteries in East Yorkshire – disappointing this report is all Iron Age, cart burials, inhumations with grave-goods and animal offerings and all that jazz, but overlaying the Garton Station graves was an unreported (but present on the plans and through brief mention) early medieval inhumation cemetery.
- Verulamium King Harry Lane – Stead and Rigby bring us a splendid report on excavations at King Harry Lane. Apart from the 472 late Iron Age graves (mainly cremations) there is a small 7th-century inhumation cemetery of 17 graves.
- Brean Down – Martin Bell is not only a top bloke, but he puts out many a top report. His account of the Bronze Age settlement on Brean Down, Somerset includes an early medieval cemetery.
- Mucking – not much archaeodeath here in Helena Hamerow’s report on the early Anglo-Saxon settlement of Mucking, but the proximity of two contemporary cemeteries, subsequently and finally published by Clark and Hirst, make this site more than a sum of its parts.
- Yeavering – this report was already available open access, but appears again here in its 2010 repackaged form. Brian Hope-Taylor’s seminal excavations of the Anglo-Saxon royal palace disappointingly afford relatively limited detail to the cemeteries he excavated too, but the relationship between settlement and cemetery, evolving through multiple phases of use, makes for essential reading for any early medieval archaeologist.
- Swallowcliffe Down Bed Burial – a single centrally-placed high-status female-gendered bed-burial was inserted into a Bronze Age barrow on Swallowcliffe Down, Wiltshire and a spearhead in a peripheral location might indicate the remains of other secondary burials or a commemorative act associated with the discovered grave. Excavations took place in 1966 (not 1996 as the ADS blurb claims) and this report was brought to publication by George Speake.
- Dover, Buckland Anglo-Saxon cemetery – This one alone is worth paying for, and I feel somewhat ashamed that it is free. This is the result of Vera Evison’s 1951-3 excavations of c. 170 5th-7th-century graves at Buckland, Dover. Now to be read in combination with the recent excavation report of the 1990s excavations of the adjacent site, this is a classic site for the study of early medieval Kent and its furnished mortuary practices.
- Monkwearmouth and Jarrow – Volume 1 and Volume 2 – previously inordinately expensive, the open access volumes bring to a wider audience Rosemary Cramp and her team’s excavations at Wearmouth and Jarrow, monasteries founded in the late 7th century. Amidst the many structures and artefacts discovered, the cemeteries reveal aspects of life and death from the Middle Anglo-Saxon period to the 19th century.
- Raunds Furnells – this is an awesome site: a rare example of a later Anglo-Saxon cemetery and church without later activity ruining it for the archaeologist! Marvel at the grave structures, the cemetery planning, the church’s footprint and so much more.
- Mawgam Porth – A later Anglo-Saxon settlement on the north Cornish coast with a small adjacent cemetery.
- Wells Cathedral – Warwick Rodwell brings us a 2 volume extravaganza of church archaeology through is long-term exploration of Wells Cathedral, including evidence for a Roman mausoleum reused as a Middle Anglo-Saxon chapel and cemetery.