Raising the Dead: The Archaeology of Anglo-Saxon Death and Burial
with Dr Richard Hoggett (Heritage Consultant)
at Sutton Hoo on Saturday, 3rd March, 2018


Burials constitute a large part of the archaeological record from Anglo-Saxon England, and this study-day uses the rich East Anglian burial record to explore the range of burial rites practised by the Anglo-Saxons. Subjects to be covered include the human skeleton, cremation, inhumation, the use of grave-goods and the impact of Christianity. The day will be illustrated with examples which will include recent and unpublished excavations.

Provisional Programme

09.50 – 10.15:                Coffee on arrival

10.15 – 11.15:                ‘Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones’ – An introduction to the basics of human osteology, including the identification of bones, and the ageing and sexing of skeletal remains, and presents an overview of East Anglia’s rich Anglo-Saxon burial record.

11.15 – 11.40:                Coffee break

11.40 – 12.40:                ‘A Well-Urned Rest’: The Cremation Rite – Cremation was prevalent in the eastern region and the ceremony can be reconstructed in some detail from often very meagre remains. The evidence reveals a technologically complex and resource-heavy rite, which was laden with symbolism.

12.40 – 14.00:                Lunch break

14.00 – 14.50:                 ‘Matters of Grave Importance’: The Inhumation Rite – A detailed look at the social, economic and religious symbolism inherent in the inhumation burial rite, expressed via grave-goods, grave-structures and the landscape setting of cemeteries.

14.50 – 15.10:                Tea break

15.10 – 16.00:                ‘Getting Cross’: The Impact of Christianity on Burial Rites – The impact of the conversion to Christianity on Anglo-Saxon attitudes towards the dead, and the many different ways in which this is reflected in the East Anglian burial record. In particular, the placement of iconographic objects in graves, and the changing relationship between the living and the dead in Anglo-Saxon society.

c.16.00:                            Thanks and Close

About Dr Richard Hoggett

Dr Richard Hoggett is a freelance heritage consultant, writer, and lecturer with over 20 years’ experience in the academic, commercial and local authority heritage sectors. He is the author of The Archaeology of the East Anglian Conversion (2010), The Book of Happisburgh (2011) and from 2006–13 was the editor of the peer-reviewed journal Norfolk Archaeology. He is a confident and popular public speaker and has lectured extensively on a wide range of subjects for institutions and organisations throughout the eastern region. In 2016 he was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London.

Some Suggestions for Optional Background Reading

Human Osteology

  • Brothwell, D. 1981. Digging Up Bones, 3rd ed. London.
  • Mays, S., 2010. The Archaeology of Human Bones. 2nd ed. London.
  • White, T. and Folkens, P. 2005. The Human Bone Manual. London.


Anglo-Saxon Cemeteries