• Feathered friends: Birds in early Anglo-Saxon burial rites

      Nugent, Ruth; University of Chester (Maney, 2011)
      This note discusses a study concerning the fragmentary remains of birds in early Anglo-Saxon burials.
    • Hogbacks: the Materiality of Solid Spaces

      Williams, Howard; University of Chester (Boydell Press, 2015-09-17)
      The hogbacks of northern England and southern Scotland have long been seen as a distinctive category of tenth- and early eleventh-century early medieval stone monument resulting from Hiberno-Norse influence and settlement. This chapter reviews previous research and suggests a new foundation for their interpretation, arguing that hogbacks were an effective commemorative media because of the mnemonics of their materiality. Specifically, I focus upon the skeuomorphic allusions inherent in the ornamentation and form of hogbacks. Combined with their solidity and lithic weight, hogbacks cited a multi-scalar network of architectural material cultures and buildings already established within Britain and Ireland prior to, as well as during, the Viking Age. Rather than exclusive translations of secular halls into stone as often portrayed in both popular and scholarly research (e.g. Stocker 2000; Eriksen 2013), hogbacks cited a complex network of buildings (including secular halls but potentially also churches) and small-scale architectures (from biers and coffins to caskets and reliquaries) which were distilled into a solid lithic architectural form in various fashions. In this regard, hogbacks operated as elite commemorative monuments because their form connected to this shared elite network of architectural ‘things’ and implied the presence of the dead as inhabiting, or at least accessible through, the monument. Endbeasts and other themes of conflict were apotropaic in this context. The monstrous, sometimes ursine, beasts threaten to engulf some hogbacks – although sometimes they are demonstrably curtailed by their binding and muzzling. The emphasis upon bound beasts reveals the significance of sealing and fixing the tomb in place through its hogback design.
    • Introduction: stones in substance, space and time

      Williams, Howard; Kirton, Joanne; Gondek, Meggen M.; University of Chester; Big Heritage (Boydell Press, 2015-09-17)
      A triad of research themes – materiality, biography and landscape – provide the distinctive foci and parameters of the contributions to this book. The chapters explore a range of early medieval inscribed and sculpted stone monuments from Ireland (Ní Ghrádaigh and O’Leary), Britain (Gondek, Hall, Kirton and Williams) and Scandinavia (Back Danielsson and Crouwers). The chapters together show how these themes enrich and expand the interdisciplinary study of early medieval stone monuments, in particular revealing how a range of different inscribed and sculpted stones were central to the creation and recreation of identities and memories for early medieval individuals, families, households, religious and secular communities and kingdoms.
    • Landmarks for the dead: exploring Anglo-Saxon mortuary geographies

      Semple, Sarah; Williams, Howard; Durham University; University of Chester (Liverpool University Press, 2015-11-27)
      To move forward with a robust framework for understanding early medieval mortuary geographies, scholars must escape the romantic dichotomy of regarding the early medieval dead as either confined to the dead pagan ‘communities’ situated on the periphery and borders of the living world, or safely bounded within churchyards under Christian pastoral care. While there is widespread recognition of the variability in early medieval burial sites and their spatial components, only a handful of studies have considered them as places of memory within complex and evolving historic landscapes, despite evidence for rich overlapping and changing burial terrains across the period. This chapter offers a new introduction and framework for just such an approach to early medieval mortuary geography.
    • Saxon obsequies: The early medieval archaeology of Richard Cornwallis Neville

      Williams, Howard; University of Chester (Ubiquity Press, 2013-04-04)
      This 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.
    • A well-urned rest: Cremation and inhumation in early Anglo-Saxon England

      Williams, Howard; University of Chester (University of Arizona Press, 2014-11-30)