Artist’s reconstruction of an Anglo-Saxon funeral – by Aaron Watson

I’m delighted to announce the second-ever Semple and Williams co-authored publication!

Dr Sarah Semple, Reader in Archaeology at Durham University, and I have written a chapter for the just-published book The Material Culture of the Built Environment in the Anglo-Saxon World edited by Maren Clegg Hyer and Gale R. Owen-Crocker (Liverpool University Press, 2015).

MaterialCultureoftheBuiltEnvironmentDeliberately cross-cutting the early (5th/6th centuries), middle (7th/8th/early 9th centuries) and late Anglo-Saxon periods (late-9th to mid-11th centuries), our paper explores thematically, rather than chronologically, aspects of death and space in the Anglo-Saxon world.. We do this in order to explore themes that are shared, as well as differences that are discernible, across the period. This is an attempt to write a textbook synthesis, but one with attitude.

We argue that graves and other mortuary media need to be conceptualised as mortuary citations. To travel the Anglo-Saxon landscape was to experience a terrain marked by ancient burial places. It also meant engagement with many different kinds of mortuary and commemorative presence, from execution sites to barrows, churches and chapels to assembly places and stone crosses. We therefore discuss the proactive use of burials and other mortuary media – through theatrical funerals and processions they involved and cumulative monument-building and cemetery-use for multiple successive funerals – to shape territory, senses of belonging and senses of the past.