Anglo-Saxon cemetery at Bennett's Hill

Overview

Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020258

Date first listed: 06-Oct-2003

Map

Ordnance survey map of Anglo-Saxon cemetery at Bennett's Hill
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Location

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Worcestershire

District: Wychavon (District Authority)

Parish: Offenham

National Grid Reference: SP 06827 45950

Summary

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.

The pagan Anglo-Saxon cemetery at Bennett's Hill survives well, preserving burials dating from the 5th to 7th century. Examples of such cemeteries are rare in Worcestershire, with the best known examples entirely removed by excavation. Partial excavation has shown that both the human remains and buried artefacts will survive in good condition and can be expected to provide information about the Anglo-Saxon population in the area, including evidence for their standard of living, diet and health. In addition, artefacts buried with the individuals will provide evidence for their ritual and belief systems as well as providing information about the relative wealth of the inhabitants and their trading contacts and craft production methods and fashions.

History

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

Details

The monument includes the known extent of the buried remains of the pagan Anglo-Saxon cemetery at Bennett's Hill. The monument is located on the crest of Bennett's Hill 2.5km north east of Evesham, on the eastern edge of the parish adjacent to the parish boundary. The remains of three human burials were discovered in 1996 during archaeological recording. The burials were dated to the early Anglo-Saxon period by grave goods interred with the bodies. Two of the skeletons were partially articulated (the bones remaining in their correct positions in relation to each other) and lay stretched out within rectangular grave cuts, which were orientated south to north. A further damaged human skeleton was also recovered. Also discovered were a range of artefacts closely associated with the burials. These included a number of amber and crystal beads, iron and copper alloy objects, such as shield bosses, brooches, belt fitments and a knife. Pottery from the excavations also dated to the early Anglo-Saxon period. Metal detecting, archaeological survey and finds in the area suggest that further inhumations extend across the modern field. The modern post and wire fences are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.

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

Legacy

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

Legacy System number: 30099

Legacy System: RSM

Sources

Other
interim report, Dalwood H, Salvage recording at Bennets Hill Offenham, (1998)

End of official listing