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Title: Animals, identity and cosmology : mortuary practice in early medieval Eastern England
Author: Rainsford, Clare E.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7972 7498
Awarding Body: University of Bradford
Current Institution: University of Bradford
Date of Award: 2017
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The inclusion of animal remains in funerary contexts was a routine feature of Anglo-Saxon cremation ritual, and less frequently of inhumations, until the introduction of Christianity during the 7th century. Most interpretation has focused either on the animal as symbolic of identity or as an indication of pagan belief, with little consideration given to the interaction between these two aspects. Animals were a fundamental and ubiquitous part of early medieval society, and their contribution to mortuary practices is considered to be multifaceted, reflecting their multiple roles in everyday life. This project considers the roles of animals in mortuary practice between the 5th-7th centuries across five counties in eastern England - Norfolk, Suffolk, Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire and Essex - in both cremation and inhumation rites. Animal remains have been recognised in 5th to 7th century burials in eastern England from an early date, and the quality of the existing archives (both material and written) is investigated and discussed as an integral part of designing a methodology to effectively summarise data across a wide area. From the eastern England dataset, four aspects of identity in mortuary practice are considered in terms of their influence on the role of animals: choice of rite (cremation/inhumation); human biological identity (age & gender); regionality; and changing expressions of belief and status in the 7th century. The funerary role of animals is argued to be based around broadly consistent cosmologies which are locally contingent in their expression and practice.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council ; Norwich Castle Museum
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Zooarchaeology ; Animals ; Burial ; Ritual ; Cemetery ; Anglo-Saxon ; Cremation ; Inhumation ; Norfolk ; Mortuary practice ; Eastern England