Skip to Main Content
CrossRef citations

Original Articles

Piecing Together Identity: A Social Investigation of Early Anglo-Saxon Cremation Practices

Pages 154-200
Published online: 20 Dec 2014
Translator disclaimer

Studies of early Anglo-Saxon social identity have been largely based on information obtained from the skeletal remains and grave assemblages from inhumation burials. As a result, the social identity of populations that practiced the alternative mortuary rite, namely cremation, is often overlooked. This paper will provide new evidence for the social identity of cremation practicing groups based on a comprehensive study of the Elsham and Cleatham cemeteries, both located in North Lincolnshire. The demographic attributes of the burial populations will be scrutinized alongside their associated grave furnishings. In addition, the spatial distribution of burials will be assessed as a means of establishing whether certain social groups were segregated at these cemeteries. Based on the results presented in this paper, it is clear that the often binary differences in grave provisions afforded to men and women in the inhumation rite play only minor roles in the manifestation of social identity among cremating groups in eastern England. Instead, stages in the lifecycle, kin associations and perhaps even ideological beliefs seem to have been emphasized by the treatment of the cremated dead.


People also read