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Decapitation in Anglo-Saxon Burials

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Decapitation in Anglo-Saxon Burials

  • Course: hist101
Page 1 of 7


Decapitation in Anglo-Saxon Burials

Table of Contents
Introduction1
Execution Burial Tendencies2
Physical Struggle2
Location of Skull4
Location of Burial……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………5 Non Execution Decapitation……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….………………6 Loveden Hill……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….6 Great Addington………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………7 Chadlington……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..7 Mitcham…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………8 Purpose of Decapitation……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………8 Conclusion………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….9

Introduction
Decapitation in Anglo-Saxon burials is mainly interpreted as an act of punishment for criminals or defeated foes of war. There are many indications that support this idea in certain burials, including severe blows to the skull, as well as signs along the neck that indicate death by hanging, which can be found in execution cemeteries such as Mound five at Sutton Hoo. Other instances include mass graves (such as the one of Vikings) which have all been decapitated and thrown together. On the other hand, there are also many examples that do not follow the typical protocol of an execution burial. It is difficult to imagine a different reason for decapitation other than execution, but based on the evidence, it is quite possible that specific cases could have been for other reasons such as tradition or ritual. Although the exact determination of decapitation other than execution are quite difficult to prove, due to frail bone remains and large number of possibilities, there is reason to believe that religious rituals, especially ones of pagan origins, might account for many of the isolated instances of disciplined beheading. Anglo-Saxon pagans did have a reputation of sacrificing for their Gods....