WWW.SHROUDEATER.COM - The Skeleton of Harwell - UK

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Anantis Castle
Berwick
Croglin
Dent
Dorchester
Drakelowe
Harwell
Highgate
Liverpool
Melrose
New Southgate
Southwell
St.Osyth
Tarrant Gunville



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The Source:

P.D.C. Brown:
"The Anglo-Saxon cemetery at Harwell. Grave 7"
in: Oxoniensia 32, 1967

John Blair:
"The Dangerous Dead in Early Medieval England"
in: Steven David Baxter (ed):
"Early Medieval Studies in memory of Patrick Wormald"

Matthew Beresford:
The Dangerous Dead - The Early Medieval deviant burial at Southwell, Nottinghamshire in a wider context"
MBArchaeology Local Heritage Series, 2012

The Case

Let us see what John Blair has to say:

"Staking or extraction of the heart are unlikely to be detected in normal cemetery excavations, but a sixth-century burial at Harwell (Berks.), where a spear was driven through the heart and left protruding from the body as it lay in the grave, seems a convincing parallel for the more elaborately constructed cases now recognised in Viking-age Scandinavia."

On to Mr. Brown then:

"Assuming that the relative positions of the parts remains unaltered from the time of death, the spearhead would appear to have entered on a level with the top of the heart, at a point close to the left nipple, and passed inwards to lodge against the backbone. Such a course would have taken it directly through the heart."

Both Matthew Beresford and John Blair list this case in their studies about "The Dangerous Dead". And even though I can see that this could be open to more than just one interpretation, who am I to disagree ?

The Date:

We have been told that this skeleton dates back to the 6th Century.

The Place:

Harwell is a village that can be found South of Oxford.

Possible Follow-Up:

I have given you no less than three different titles to start with. There is much more information about this interesting case, detailed descriptions, maps, drawings... So go and find it.

2014 by Rob Brautigam - NL - Last changed November 2014

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