Burial of the Anglo-Saxon World

Olivia Gonzalez, Bryan Moreno, Hana Al-kobri

Death

During this time period, people believed that fate dictated who would live and die and when. Death was not just a fact of life, it was a way of life. The Anglo-Saxons were very sentimental of the dead, they wrote poems of loved ones who had passed. Their ways of burying the dead shows a lot about the culture and beliefs of the Anglo-Saxons.

Preparing the Dead for Burial

The dead were adorned with jewelry, tools, weapons, and other items of personal value. This caused a lot of the graves to be disturbed by robbers before the scientists got there. The Anglo-Saxons disposed of the dead by cremation and putting the ashes in ornate jars, or inhumation (or grave burial).

Burial

They made barrows (which is an ancient form of burial from the British Isles) for the dead. The barrows would depend on the size of the body. Scientists have inferred that only the social elites would be buried in barrows. For example, Beowulf, himself, asked for a barrow to be built in his honor. It has also been found that around the initial body buried with the barrow, there are additional bodies buried around that perhaps may be servants or family members of the noble one. Depending on the social status, the barrows range from small stones or hills to huge engraved discs.

Four Types of Burial

When Christianity became the most popular religion, the ways of burying the dead changed.


1.) Final Phase Burial

The bodies were placed facing east to west and inhumation was the process by which they were buried.


2.) Princely Burial

These were usually buried under mounds and the bodies were either cremated or buried by inhumation. They were thought to defy Christianity because cremation was not accepted anymore.


3.) Unfurnished Burials

This way of burial was influenced by Christian beliefs and they faced east to west and were very hard to date.


4.) Deviant Burials

These were known as "execution" or "battlefield" burials because they were not defined and the corpses were usually buried in masses.