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NOTES ON TWO ANGLO-SAXON BURIAL

PLACES AT PETERBOROUGH.

BY THOMAS JAMES WALKER, M.D., ETC.

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(Read at the Peterborough Congress, 1898.)
N the communication which I am privi-

leged to make to you this evening,
I wish to direct your attention to two
local cemeteries, situate in the county
of Huntingdonshire, which has not
hitherto been included in the lists of

counties (thirteen in number) in which Anglo-Saxon cemeteries are known to exist.

By far the larger number of the objects exhibited this evening are from an ancient burial place, in that part of Peterborough which lies south of the river Nene and in the county of Huntingdon. The site is about 400 yards from the south bank, and about 30 ft. above the level of the river ; its position is indicated in the plate facing page 55 of the currrent volume of the Transactions, by the words : “ Site of Saxon Cemetery.” The boundary between the parishes of Woodstone and Fletton runs through the cemetery ; the soil is gravel, of varying degrees of coarseness, its area-as far as known, that is, the area within which graves have been opened—is about 250 yards long by 120 yards wide. No barrows marked the site of the graves, nor was there any suspicion of their existence until some thirty years since, when the first skeletons were found in the course of excavations made to obtain gravel. Probably much of the northern portion of the cemetery is built over, its treasures lying buried below the houses ; the graves have been opened, not in the course of archæological research, but during excavations made for sand and gravel ; and it

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is impossible to say how many graves have been opened, and how many valuable relics have been scattered abroad, destroyed, or lost ; it is certain that the list which I can give you is incomplete.

One or two of the most interesting objects are from a second burial-place, about half a mile west of this one.

Seventy years since, Artis figured in his “ Durobrivae' (Plate LV) six fibulae and two belt-clasps found in this situation ; some years afterwards, a cupelliform brooch, two round brooches, and other articles now in the

possession of Lord Huntly, and exhibited by him here, were found on the same site, and some of the urns and other articles exhibited to-night were recently obtained from the same ground. I have myself uncovered a portion of a skeleton in this burying-place, and a thorough and careful methodical search would doubtless produce valuable results. The relics (one hundred and eight in all) obtained from the graves in these two localities, correspond generally with those found in other East Anglian cemeteries; but while the general type is characteristic of the burials in the settlements of the Angles, there are certain objects which are typical of the southern and western Saxon settlements; to these I shall direct your attention later.

It is impossible to say over what space of time the burials which took place in this cemetery were distributed, but during the period that it was in use both means of disposing of the dead, cremation and inhumation, were employed. Cinerary urns with the calcined bones of those who were burnt in the funeral pyre, and the skeletons of those who were consigned to the ground unburnt, are found side by side, but this fact does not prove that the two methods of disposing of the dead went on simultaneously ; it is possible that the former were earlier burials, while the latter belong to the later history of the cemetery. The skeletons were not laid cast and west, and it is certain that the majority of the burials must be assigned to a period prior to the conversion of the Anglo-Saxon people to Christianity. Probably the sixth century would include the time when the burials took place. The bones are those of men and

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