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aNgLo-saXoN bUriaLs A new chronology is

: Matt Dav photo

Redating Early

Redating Early

Redating Early Redating Early

England

Explaining the end of Early Anglo-Saxon funerary traditions

Explaining the end of Early Anglo-Saxon Explaining the end of Early Anglo-Saxon Explaining the end of funerary traditions Early Anglo-Saxon funerary traditions Early Anglo-Saxon

Explaining the end of Early Anglo-Saxon Explaining the end of Early Anglo-Saxon Explaining the end of funerary traditions Early Anglo-Saxon funerary traditions Early Anglo-Saxon

Theodore of Tarsus was no ordinary visitor. Born in the Byzantine Empire, he arrived in England on 27 May AD 669. Theodore’s trip was motivated by business rather than pleasure. The 67-year-old had travelled from Rome after being ordained the eighth Archbishop of Canterbury by Pope Vitalian. The England Theodore entered was, nominally at least, a mostly God-fearing land aligned to the Roman church. All of the major Anglo-Saxon kingdoms had already renounced paganism, a process that started with St Augustine’s famous conversion of King Aethelbert of Kent in 597. But the new Archbishop’s appointment was no sinecure.

While rewriting the Neolithic in Gathering Time (CA 259), Alex Bayliss was also working with John Hines and a team of experts on a longer-term project to discover what new scientific techniques could reveal about Early Anglo-Saxon burials. The results shed fascinating light on an England where kings and the Church were seeking to tighten their grip on power, as Matthew Symonds found out.

above Man on a mission: this stone relief depicting Theodore of Tarsus decorates the wall of a Catholic church dedicated to him in Crawley, West Sussex. right Dressed for the next world: a 6thcentury woman, buried at Oakington, Cambridgeshire, wearing Anglo-Saxon finery including a brooch and a necklace.

Building the church

With territorial turf wars raging between bishops, and unresolved questions about episcopal power structures, the fledgling church in England was in dire need of formal reorganisation. There was also a very real danger that the supposedly successful Christianisation of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms was no more than a veneer. While kings and their consorts tilted their heads to Rome, just how far down the social ladder had the new religion stepped? Despite

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current archaeology | www.archaeology.co.uk

December 2013 |

December 2013 |

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