Anglo-Saxon and medieval cemetery and associated settlement at Saxon Primary School, 60m south of 77 Briar Road.
Reasons for Designation
Beginning in the fifth century AD, there is evidence from distinctive burials and cemeteries, new settlements, and new forms of pottery and metalwork, of the immigration into Britain of settlers from northern Europe, bringing with them new religious beliefs. The Roman towns appear to have gone into rapid decline and the old rural settlement pattern to have been disrupted. Although some Roman settlements and cemeteries continued in use, the native Britons rapidly adopted many of the cultural practices of the new settlers and it soon becomes difficult to distinguish them in the archaeological record. So-called Anglo-Saxon cemeteries are dated to the early Anglo-Saxon period, from the fifth to the seventh centuries AD. With the conversion to Christianity during the late sixth and seventh centuries AD, these pagan cemeteries appear to have been abandoned in favour of new sites, some of which have continued in use up to the present day. Burial practices included both inhumation and cremation. Anglo-Saxon inhumation cemeteries consist predominantly of inhumation burials which were placed in rectangular pits in the ground, occasionally within coffins. The bodies were normally accompanied by a range of grave goods, including jewellery and weaponry. The cemeteries vary in size, the largest containing several hundred burials. Around 1000 inhumation cemeteries have been recorded in England. They represent one of our principal sources of archaeological evidence about the Early Anglo-Saxon period, providing information on population, social structure and ideology. All surviving examples, other than those which have been heavily disturbed, are considered worthy of protection.
The Anglo-Saxon and medieval cemetery and associated settlement at Saxon Primary School has been shown by partial excavation to retain buried archaeological remains relating to the original use and history of the site. It will also contain environmental evidence relating to the site and the landscape in which it was constructed. These remains indicate continuity in site use and occupation from the Saxon period to later in the medieval period and are particularly significant to our understanding of early Christian burial practice.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 27 November 2014. The record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.
The monument includes the site of an Anglo-Saxon and medieval cemetery and associated settlement surviving as buried archaeological remains. It is situated on flat ground in the playing fields and grounds of Saxon Primary School, north of a water-filled gravel pit. The site includes a cemetery of at least 20 Saxon and early Christian inhumations. There are also a considerable number of pits, ditches and post holes including a round house, rectangular timber buildings and a sunken featured building recognised as a Saxon grubenhaus. The grubenhaus was defined by a pit 2m square and 0.75m deep with a post hole at each corner. The finds include Early Iron Age, Saxon and medieval pottery, a coin of Offa as well as bronze tweezers and pins of probable Roman date. The site was partially excavated in 1967, 1969, 1973, 1986 and 2003.