Raising The Dead: The Archaeology of Anglo-Saxon Death and Burial
with Dr Richard Hoggett (Heritage Consultant)
at the Suffolk Punch Trust, Hollesley
on Saturday, 17th November, 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 The day will be illustrated with examples drawn from recent and unpublished excavations, as well as some classic sites.

Provisional Programme

10.00 – 10.30:      Coffee on arrival

10.30 – 11.30:      ‘Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones’ – The first session of the day introduces 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.

11.30 – 11.50:      Coffee break

11.50 – 12.50:      ‘A Well-Urned Rest’: The Cremation Rite – The second session focuses on the cremation rite, which was prevalent in the eastern region and which 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.

12.50 – 13.50:      Lunch break

13.50 – 14.40:       ‘Matters of Grave Importance’: The Inhumation Rite – For the afternoon, the focus moves from cremation to inhumation, and this session takes 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.

14.40 – 15.00:      Tea break

15.00 – 15.50:      ‘Getting Cross’: The Impact of Christianity on Burial Rites – The final session looks at 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.15.50:                  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.


At a previous Study Day by Rik, when asked ‘What was best about the day?‘ people said:

  • Excellent, concise, clear presentation
  • Delivery was excellent and coverage and range of presentation very enjoyable. Thank You.
  • Pleasant ambiance plus speaker with great delivery
  • Excellent speaker.
  • Rik’s superb presentation
  • Very good speaker and useful handouts
  • Rick’s breadth of knowledge and superb delivery
  • Interesting and engaging speaker
  • An excellent, informative day as ever


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