Part of an Anglo-Saxon inhumation cemetery at Manor Cottages


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1010700

Date first listed: 26-Jan-1995


Ordnance survey map of Part of an Anglo-Saxon inhumation cemetery at Manor Cottages
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: East Sussex

District: Wealden (District Authority)

Parish: Selmeston

National Grid Reference: TQ 51051 07176


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

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.

Although it has been partially disturbed by 19th century and modern construction work, the Anglo-Saxon cemetery at Manor Cottages survives comparatively well, and has been shown by partial excavation to contain archaeological remains and environmental evidence relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was constructed. A further Anglo-Saxon cemetery and a number of Anglo-Saxon burial mounds are situated on the Sussex Downs within c.4km of the monument. These monuments are broadly contemporary and their close association illustrates the relatively dense early Anglo-Saxon settlement of East Sussex. The location of the cemetery within the village of Selmeston, close to the extant medieval church, will provide evidence for the (as yet) little understood relationship between early Anglo-Saxon and later medieval settlement and burial practices.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes part of an Anglo-Saxon inhumation cemetery situated in the Low Weald of East Sussex, in the lee of the Sussex Downs. The cemetery, which dates to the period between the fifth and early seventh centuries AD, has been estimated, by analogy with similar examples, to contain at least 100 east-west aligned, rectangular graves. These survive at a depth of c.1.5m beneath the present ground surface. The cemetery was discovered during the construction of Manor Cottages in 1897 when at least two graves were disturbed. These burials were accompanied by a rich assemblage of grave goods including swords, spears, glass vessels and a fragment of a gilt saucer brooch. Subsequent partial excavations carried out in 1950, 1963 and during the 1970s have uncovered a further 43 graves, all except two of which were found to contain male burials. Soil stains found in the graves indicated that at least some of the bodies were originally buried in wooden coffins, although these had disintegrated over the years. Manor Cottages, all associated outbuildings, structures and steps, the modern surfaces of all paths, and all modern walls and fences are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath all these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 27009

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Griffith, A F, Salzmann, L F, 'Sussex Archaeological Collections' in An Anglo-Saxon Cemetery at Alfriston, Sussex, , Vol. 56, (1914), 16-53
Rudling, D, 'Sussex Archaeological Collections' in Recent Archaeological Research at Selmeston, East Sussex, , Vol. 123, (1985), 1-25
Welch, M, 'BAR' in Early Anglo-Saxon Sites in Sussex, (1980), 389-390
Brown, M, in letter from M Brown ESCC to Dr Schofield IAM 08.04.94, (1994)
Source F1 PAS, RCHME, TQ 50 NW 10, 3138, (1972)
Welch, M, Telephone conversation between R Parker and M Welch 23.05.1994, (1994)

End of official listing