» Home > In the News

Richard III update, and an early Anglo Saxon cemetery

2 March 2014

A controversy has developed over the remains of Richard III – some people not keen on DNA testing. A rift has broken out between different groups involved in the discovery, see http://news.yahoo.com/richard-iii-dna-test-sparks-controversy-195556171….

Meanwhile, at www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/02/2014/anglo-saxon-cemetery-r… … begins with a nice image of a wooden hovel from the recreated A/S village at West Stow (visitor centre) which looks the spitting image of my garden shed. Basically, this article questions, once again, the idea of a violent invasion of Britain by A/S invaders, replacing the indigenous population following an outbreak of 6th century ethnic cleansing. A new study in the Journal of Archaeological Science suggests a more peaceful process – in so far as the numbers involved are concerned. Dr Andrew Millard of Durham University makes the point the controversy revolves around a mass migration as opposed to the idea of a smaller group of people, some of which established themselves as an elite ruling caste, replacing the Celtic ruling elite(or even marrying into that group). The evidence for the focus taken in this paper comes from an early A/S cemetery in the Upper Thames Valley (Oxon) far from the flooded Fens, in one sense, but within reach of boats (via the Thames and Ouse and their tributaries). The cemetery was uncovered at a gravel pit at Berinsfield prior to gravel extraction. Most of the burials contained grave goods which included weapons, jewellery, spindle whorls, trinkets and pottery, and it was surmised the cemetery had been in use for 150 years, from mid 5th to early 7th centuries AD. The big question – were the people newcomers or locals that had adapted to A/S culture. Stronium and oxygen isoptope analysis of the remains revealed only 5 per cent of the skeletons came from outside the area. Hence, it seems the idea of a large invasion may be erroneous – unless the level has been wrongly dated (which doesn't seem likely at the moment).

Skip to content