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Open Access (free)
Duncan Sayer
in Early Anglo-Saxon cemeteries
Open Access (free)
Duncan Sayer

Chapter 4, ‘The grammar of graves’, explores leitmotifs, cultural themes in funerary display. These include social hierarchy, core burials, sex, gender and age. Plots or groups of graves were often structured using the location of significant burials within them. This focus may have been on the core groups of graves, which sometimes encircled specific individuals. Interestingly, graves with mounds on them were targeted by contemporary grave robbers, but some types of grave were deliberately avoided. Elaborate burials with exposed markers were a tool used by a community to create key ancestors who formed powerful parts of the communal identity.

in Early Anglo-Saxon cemeteries
Duncan Sayer

Chapter 5, ‘Intonation on the individual’, builds on the previous three chapters to locate the lived experience. It uses skeletal archaeology to explore the distributions of skeletal trauma, diet and height. This focus on the body developed in order to explore in more detail the differences in social attitudes expressed within the mortuary environment. Diet and trauma may provide insights into differential lifeways, whereas height and teeth metrics may reveal a degree of relative biological connection across the cemeteries investigated.

in Early Anglo-Saxon cemeteries
Open Access (free)
Duncan Sayer

Chapter 3, ‘Mortuary metre’, considers the chronological construction of sites, the development of cemeteries and the chronological transformation of funerary display. Building on the new chronologies proposed by John Hines and Alex Bayliss, and Catherine Hills and Sam Lucy, this chapter looks at Spong Hill, Sewerby, Apple Down, Wakerley, Oakington, Deal and Orpington. It also presents an in-depth investigation of the chronology at Dover Buckland because this site has been central to previous discussions of early Anglo-Saxon chronology. This chapter highlights discordant chronologies within sites, highlighting the use of different rituals by different identity groups within the same community.

in Early Anglo-Saxon cemeteries
Duncan Sayer

Chapter 1, ‘Negotiating early Anglo-Saxon cemetery space’, provides an introduction to the subject by describing how archaeologists have approached early Anglo-Saxon cemeteries. It uses this historiography as a foundation upon which to describe several cemetery sites, starting with a double burial from Oakington and then focusing on the description of two complete cemeteries at Orpington, Kent and Apple Down, West Sussex. This chapter illustrates the problem with traditional monothematic approaches and describes how spatial layout, material culture and skeletal characteristics can be used together to explore the social arena. It also defines the philosophy that underpins the book. Based on interdisciplinary perspectives, Chapter 1 explores the causal agency embedded in relationships, material expressions of identity, transformative objects and aesthetic selection. Artefacts exist within the social world, and so the sociology of shoes and modern-day gravegoods are useful examples which are analogous to how more ancient objects interfaced with people. Society is pluralistic, but its physical remains are created from an amalgam of factors, including the manifestation of identities and aesthetics derived from shared semiotic knowledge.

in Early Anglo-Saxon cemeteries
Open Access (free)
Duncan Sayer
in Early Anglo-Saxon cemeteries
Duncan Sayer

‘The syntax of cemetery space’ (Chapter 2) describes cemetery organisation thematically. This chapter introduces the structural language of the cemetery and is the foundation of subsequent chapters. It starts by describing pre-existing topography and introduces the use of spatial statistics to identify distinct grave plots. The relative density of graves, rows of graves, the orientation of graves and the rituals used within the cemetery are alternative ways used to identify group affiliation(s). This chapter also investigates patterns in the material included within graves, and compares those patterns to the multiple methods used to organise funerary space.

in Early Anglo-Saxon cemeteries
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The spectator’s God’s-eye view
Daisy Black

The conclusion turns a critical lens on the academic periodisation of ‘medieval’ and ‘early modern’ performance forms and the supersessionary models of theatre they produce. First, it extends discussions of subjective experiences of time to focus on a play’s spectators. It identifies in the York Fall of the Angels a contract of temporal double-think required from audience members who knew and anticipated a play’s plot, yet were simultaneously engaged with the ‘now’ of the performance. It also examines what happens to this God-like perspective if a play breaks this contract of narrative anticipation. Second, it discusses an episode from the 1611 manuscript of the Cornish Gwreans an bys, in which Seth makes a conscious effort to preserve historical knowledge for future generations by burying books. It argues that this apocryphal episode is not merely an act of pleasurable nostalgia: it operates as an act of resistance towards consigning the popular stories of the old faith to the past.

in Play time
Abstract only
Daisy Black
in Play time
Abstract only
Fantasies of supersession and explosive questions in the York and Chester Flood plays
Daisy Black

This chapter argues that the dramatisation of the Flood in the York and Chester plays complicates questions of supersession and typology further by demonstrating that the conflict between Noah and his wife lies in their opposing conceptions of time. Engaging with medieval theories concerning annihilation and renewal as well as more recent works on temporal collapse and explosiveness, it finds that, while Noah adheres to a supersessionary understanding of the Flood which demands a full erasure of the past in order to begin the world anew, his wife engages with models that command the explosive ability to recall the past into the present. Tracking the history of the rebellious wife figure to its earliest versions in European manuscript illumination as well as in Jewish and Muslim folklore, this chapter argues that, when placed on the medieval pageant, the disobedience legend moves beyond its frequent assignment within the problematic medieval trope of the ‘unruly woman’. Where Noah seeks to re-assert distance between past and present, Noah’s wife and her gossips collapse times into simultaneity.

in Play time