Landscapes of burial in early medieval Wessex: the funerary appropriation of the antecedent landscape, c. AD 450-850
Mees, Kate Anna
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
I intend to publish a book and papers based on the thesis.
The phenomenon of the reuse of prehistoric monuments—notably Bronze Age barrows—for early medieval burial has long been recognised as remarkably prevalent in the archaeological record. This systematic study of the landscape context of ‘Early-Middle Saxon’ burial in Wessex assumes a broader outlook, and considers all aspects of the antecedent landscape which may have influenced the siting of funerary locales. Engaging primarily with archaeological evidence, complemented by documentary and place-name sources, it examines the influence of topography, land-use, territorial organisation, and perceptions of ancient features on the location of burial sites, and the role played by burial in the formation of group identities. Moreover, it investigates the emergence and evolution of the practice of monument appropriation, and its exploitation and adaptation by an increasingly defined elite class. The selection of three case study counties—Wiltshire, Hampshire and Dorset—within a discrete area of southern England which, by the latter part of the period of study, had been incorporated into the kingdom of Wessex, allows the evidence to be examined at local and sub-regional levels, and facilitates supra-regional comparisons. The burial record is scrutinised and analysed with the aid of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) in order to construct a detailed picture of the influence of topography and other aspects of the natural and man-made environment on burial location. It also reveals the significant impact that antiquarian and modern archaeological investigation patterns have had on the distribution and nature of the burial record.
Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
PhD in Archaeology