• 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.