To be, or not to be buried?

ANGLO-CHINESE..? NOT!

The Anglo-Saxons were a community made up of different tribes (namely Angles, Saxons and Jutes) who left Northern Europe and came together to Britain with a common goal: find a new home. They resided at East Anglia from 6th century to 917 AD.

Since Singapore only has a few types of burials like cremation, sea and land burials, we would love to post about the types of burials the Anglo-Saxons had.  

There were mainly 4 types of burials for the Anglo-Saxons: Princely, Final Phase, Unfurnished and Deviant burials. The difference between them was the amount and variations of grave goods in the burial. For example, personal belongings, extravagant items and war items were buried with the corpse in Princely burials whereas the executed had minimal amounts of grave items in Deviant burials.

We were intrigued by the different ceremonial methods performed on people who died, which ensured safe journeys to their afterlife, as well as the various amounts of grave goods that ‘accompanied’ the corpse. We also believe that the chosen types of grave goods will tell us a unique story about the individual when he/she was alive. Hence, we will be focusing on Princely burials in this post.


PRINCELY BURIALS

Highly respected individuals whom held high prestige in society were entitled to special treatment when they died. Burials with rich amounts of grave goods allowed the living to connect with the dead (usually someone of importance to the tribe or society), as a form of tribute to honour them even after passing on. Their bodies could be buried in specific cemeteries like princely burial grounds, after their families chose from 3 variations of burials: cremation, inhumation and ship burials.

Here’s a peek of what a burial mound looks like: 

Cremation:

Verbrennung eines Toten im Schaukrematorium Meißen By Henry Mühlpfordt [CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons]

Verbrennung eines Toten im Schaukrematorium Meißen By Henry Mühlpfordt [CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons]

Inhumation:

Dead abbots and their coffins, Bury St Edmunds Abbey, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, England By Unknown [CC0 Public domain via Wikimedia Commons]

Dead abbots and their coffins, Bury St Edmunds Abbey, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, England By Unknown [CC0 Public domain via Wikimedia Commons]

Ship Burial:

Sutton Hoo ship burial Used with permission of British Museum  [CC BY-NC-SA 4.0]

Sutton Hoo ship burial Used with permission of British Museum  [CC BY-NC-SA 4.0]

We believe the term ‘ship burial’ paints a scene of a ship carrying the corpse and grave goods being set on fire while it’s out at sea, alike the Vikings’ funerals that we see on television, right? However, that’s not the case at Sutton Hoo. The ship was buried underground instead.   


SUTTON WHO?

Home to one of the largest burial finds of the Anglo-Saxons, this place was found in 1939 at Sutton Hoo, East Anglia.

Ancient Britain’s map of United Kingdom:

Britain c.540 By myself [CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons]

Britain c.540 By myself [CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons]

Today’s map of United Kingdom:

Map of United Kingdom today, own work using www.googlemaps.com

Map of United Kingdom today, own work using www.googlemaps.com