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Title: United in death : the pre-burial origins of Anglo-Saxon cremation urns
Author: Perry, Gareth John
ISNI:       0000 0004 2736 2888
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis represents a major re-evaluation of pottery from early Anglo-Saxon (c. AD 425-625) England, examining the pre-burial origins of cremation urns through a variety of methods. It takes a use-alteration approach to the study of urns from two cemeteries, Elsham and Cleatham (North Lincolnshire), and the pottery recovered from 80 non-funerary find-sites that surround them, in order to determine a pre-burial biography for each individual urn. This reveals that the majority of urns were involved in production and consumption activities prior to their use as containers for the dead, whilst ethnographic comparisons indicate that the brewing of beer may have been their primary use in the domestic sphere. It is argued that this pre-burial use was an extremely significant concern in the selection of appropriate vessels for burial. The forms of cremation urns are then considered in light of their functional properties, and each form is placed in the context of pre-burial use. Meanwhile, analysis of the decoration of both the funerary and non-funerary pottery demonstrates that urn decoration was directly linked to pre-burial function, and that individuals may have been buried in plots relating to community, kin or household groups. These results are complemented by an analysis of ceramic fabrics, revealing that ceramic paste recipes were dictated by cultural, rather than geological, constraints. The distribution of these fabrics further supports the notion that the dead were buried in community or household areas. Finally, through detailed petrographic analysis of ceramic fabrics from the cemeteries and non-funerary sites, the geographical origins of vessels are identified, and the catchment areas of these large cremation cemeteries are revealed.
Supervisor: Hadley, D. M. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available