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Tyne and Wear HER(1227): Jarrow Monastery, Anglo-Saxon cemetery - Details

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S Tyneside

Jarrow Monastery, Anglo-Saxon cemetery



Religious Ritual and Funerary

Funerary Site


Early Medieval



The precise extent of the Anglo-Saxon graveyard is not known. To the south of the church, the burial ground coincides with the break in slope at the edge of the flatter ground occupied by the monastic buildings. No certain physical boundaries were found. The pre-Norman cemetery appears to lie mainly between the Anglo-Saxon churches and buildings A and B. A small number of burials north and south-west of the church may also be early medieval in date. It is estimated that 132 Anglo-Saxon burials were excavated by Cramp. The certain Anglo-Saxon burials comprised 72 adults and 39 sub-adults (including 12 infants, 22 children and 5 adolescents). 35 adult skeletons were male and 20 female. 7 could not be sexed and no data was available for 10. All of the skeletons were extended. 29 were supine or probably supine. 29 had been buried on their right side. Up to 9 fragmentary burials may have been right-side. 10 unphased burials were right-side. No burials were on their left side. The supine burials comprise 8 males, 10 females and 5 sub-adults. Right-side burials comprise 13 males, 6 feamles and 5 sub-adults. It would therefore appear that this early medieval burial rite was particularly associated with male adults. Virtually all the supine burials had their legs straight and feet together. A few right-side burials were slightly bent at the knees. One had the feet crossed. Most often with supine burials, the arms were slightly flexed with the hands placed on the pelvis, sometimes clasped together. The arms of right-side burials were mostly found in front of the body, hands in front of the pelvis. The principal type of burial was a simple earth-cut grave. There were a few indications of simple stone settings. No charcoal burials were recorded. Ten graves had wood stains, probably indicating coffins. Two of these graves included nails. No shroud pins were found. A single fragmentary iron plate with a nail was found in burial 70/142. Two supine skeletons had their arms tight to the body (suggests shrouds or coffins). A small number of graves contained deliberately placed stones. Supine burial 70/169 had a stone propping up the head and a cobble placed above the hands/pelvis. Right-side burials 69/16 and 75/15 had flat flags behind their shoulders. A flat slab lay along the southern edge of grave 75/22. Small groups of stone lay above the head of 70/18. Two burials (70/109 and 69/20) had a large stone behind the head/left shoulder, perhaps to support a cover. Burial 75/100 was edged with stones, possibly a cist? No decorated or inscribed stone grave markers were found associated with graves. A number of grave slabs were found in the medieval cloister where they had been incorporated into later features. A fragment of grave marker with baluster decoration was found in the later post-medieval cemetery north of the chancel. The lower part of another grave marker was found south-west of the church in a medieval deposit. There was only one probable in-situ grave marker. Burial 70/105 had a rectangular worked stone block set into the clay at the head end of the grave, likely the base of a grave marker. Only two graves contained deliberately placed artefacts. 69/14 contained a black globular glass bead with white trails and red and white eyes (6th or 7th century) lying close to the neck. The same grave contained a fragment of crucible of 8th/9th century date. Grave 71/42 yielded a brown and yellow annular bead. A green glass barrel-shaped bead with yellow trails was found in the upper fill of grave 70/105. A small coral bead came from trench 7006. A blackish knobbed spoke bead with white spiral trails came from trench 7001. Such beads may have been from a necklace or a single bead strung round the neck, clothes fasteners, on a belt or attached to a sword. Only grave 69/14 contained pottery. 59 graves contained fragments of plaster, pieces of lead or window glass. These are building materials from building or modifications to moastic buildings. Si




Excavation report, R.J. Cramp, 1969, Excavations at the Saxon Monastic Sites of Wearmouth and Jarrow... Medieval Archaeology, XIII, 45; R.J. Cramp, 1963, Jarrow - Dept. Archaeology Durham; R. Cramp, 1975, Jarrow 1973, University of Durham Gazette, 21, pp 16-17; R. Cramp, 1976, Jarrow, Archaeological Excavations, 1975, p 27; R. Cramp, 1976, Jarrow Church, Archaeological Journal, 133, pp 220-8; R. Cramp, 1976, Monkwearmouth and Jarrow: the archaeological evidence in G. Bonner (ed), 1976, Famulus Christi: Essays in Commemoration of the Thirteenth Centenary of the Birth of the Venerable Bede; Pamela Lowther, 2005, The Jarrow pre-Norman burial ground in Rosemary Cramp, 2005, Wearmouth and Jarrow Monastic Sites, Vol. 1, pp 173-186; SM Anderson and DA Birkett, 1988, The Human Remains from Jarrow Monastic Site 1963-1978, Ancient Monuments Laboratory Report 15/88; Sue Anderson, Calvin Wells and David Birkett, 2005, People and environment: the human skeletal remains in Rosemary Cramp, 2005, Wearmouth and Jarrow Monastic Sites, Vol. 2, pp 481-545; Tyne and Wear Museums, 2011, Erection of new signs at St Peter's Wearmouth and St. Paul's Jarrow - Archaeological Watching Brief; Simpson & Brown, 2010, The Twin Monastery of Wearmouth-Jarrow, nominated as a World Heritage Property, conservation plan

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