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Approaches to History: Archaeology Burials: Identity and Status.

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Presentation on theme: "Approaches to History: Archaeology Burials: Identity and Status."— Presentation transcript:

1 Approaches to History: Archaeology Burials: Identity and Status

2 What can burials tell us about status and power in early medieval Europe? What determined social status? Gender, age-grades, descent, etc. – not profession or ‘class’ Early medieval social structure: written sources The importance of gift-giving and portable wealth in a non-monetised society

3 Earliest Frankish laws: the Lex Salica

4 Conspicuous consumption of surplus through gift-giving: The Staffordshire Hoard: c 7 th century

5 Conspicuous consumption of surplus: the Kingston brooch


7 Case Study I: The burial of Childeric I (Merovingian ‘king’, d. 481-2)

8 Stilicho, leader of the western Roman army: nb crossbow brooch

9 Childeric’s signet ring: ‘Childerici regis’, a ‘long-haired king’

10 Childeric: Romanitas

11 5 th -century horse sacrifices near Childeric’s grave (St Brice, Tournai)



14 Early Anglo-Saxon ‘kingdoms’

15 Case Study II: Sutton Hoo, SE Suffolk (R. Deben)

16 Plan of the Sutton Hoo cemetery: 16 burial mounds (barrows)

17 The Sutton Hoo ship burial (Mound 1) under excavation, 1939


19 3 symbolic categories of finds hold the key to ‘reading’ the status of ‘Mound 1 Man’ (Maybe Redwald d. 624-5?): Feasting and drinking equipment: symbolic of the provision of hospitality/gifts Roman/Byzantine objects & imitations: symbolic of ‘Romanitas’ Objects symbolizing international connections

20 Byzantine silver bowls: for washing?

21 Preparing the feast: the cauldron

22 The drinking horns

23 Sutton Hoo: the drinking set

24 The drinking set: The burr wood cups

25 Sutton Hoo: the ‘tub’

26 Sutton Hoo: reconstruction of the lyre

27 Gifts of gold: the great gold buckle

28 ‘Romanitas’: The ‘Coptic’ bowl from the Eastern mediterranean

29 The ‘Anastasius’ dish

30 The Sutton Hoo Helmet

31 Late Roman helmets

32 Mound 1 Man

33 8 th -century genealogy of the East Anglian kings

34 International connections: the purse-lid, coins and blanks

35 The Sutton Hoo ship: links to the Svea region of Sweden (a link to the Wylfings?)

36 The Sutton Hoo ship: half-size replica

37 Case Study III: Late Saxon execution burials

38 Late Saxon Execution Burials placed near prehistoric/pagan Saxon burial mounds

39 Execution burials near boundaries


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