Saxon obsequies: The early medieval archaeology of Richard Cornwallis Neville
AffiliationUniversity of Chester
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AbstractThis paper investigates the origins of British Anglo-Saxon archaeology by focusing on the work of one early Victorian archaeologist: Richard Cornwallis Neville. The seemingly descriptive and parochial nature of Neville’s archaeological pursuits, together with the attention he afforded to Romano-British remains, has impeded due recognition, and critical scrutiny, of his contributions to the development of early Medieval burial archaeology. Using his archaeological publications as source material, I will show how Neville’s interpretations of Saxon graves were a form of memory work, defining his personal, familial and martial identity in relation to the landscape and locality of his aristocratic home at Audley End, near Saffron Walden, Essex. Subsequently, I argue that Neville’s prehistoric and Romano-British discoveries reveal his repeated concern with the end of Roman Britain and its barbarian successors. Finally, embodied within Neville’s descriptions of early Medieval graves and their location we can identify a pervasive Anglo-Saxonism. Together these strands of argument combine to reveal how, for Neville, Saxon graves constituted a hitherto unwritten first chapter of English history that could be elucidated through material culture and landscape.
CitationBulletin of the History of Archaeology, 2013, 23(1). http://dx.doi.org/10.5334/bha.2312
DescriptionOpen access journal
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