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Jo Buckberry, Annia Cherryson, eds. Burial in Later Anglo-Saxon England, c. 650-1100. Studies in Funerary Archaeology Series. Oxford Oxbrow Books, 2010. x + 142 pp. $60.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-1-84217-965-9. Reviewed by William Southwell-Wright (University of Durham) Published on H-Disability (January, 2014) Commissioned by Iain C. Hutchison Disability, Difference, and Death in Anglo-Saxon England While both classical antiquity and the High Medieval periods have seen increased academic attention in recent years, the periods of late antiquity and the early Middle Ages have experienced publication of comparatively little scholarship. This is possibly due to a perceived scarcity of textual sources to provide information on the lives of people with impairments during those eras so that subsequently it is difficult to make statements about disability that are sufficiently detailed or nuanced. This is a perception that this volume perhaps demonstrates to be unfounded. As several of the chapters in this collection show, archaeological evidence forms a useful avenue for understanding changing perceptions of disability, especially that which uses skeletal evidence of individuals with impairments. This volume, the fourth of Oxbow Books' Studies in Funerary Archaeology series, presents ten essays that cover a range of topics relating to the burial archaeology of the later Anglo-Saxon period (ca. 650-1100 AD). As stated in the introduction to the book, this collection focuses on representing the diversity of burial treatment and themes relating to it in this period, and is not a book on disability history per se. As the editors state, "the overarching theme of the book is differential treatment in death, which is examined at the site-specific, settlement, regional and national level" (p. ix). Nonetheless, this collection contains several essays that are of significant interest to disability history scholars, and it is these on which this review focuses in detail. When read together, two specific chapters, by Sally Crawford and Dawn Hadley, provide a detailed insight into Anglo-Saxon attitudes to impairment and disability. Crawford's contribution, "Differentiation in the Later Anglo-Saxon Burial Ritual on the Basis of Mental or Physical Impairment: A Documentary Perspective," explicitly sets itself in a social-constructionist model of disability that differentiates between impairment and disability, specifically following the lead set by Irina Metzler's work on later medieval disability, _Disability in Medieval Europe: Thinking about Physical Impairment during the High Middle Ages, c.1100-1400_ (2006). Crawford recognizes that while "there exists a robust literature on Anglo-Saxon medicine ... this is only tangentially relevant to the discussion of the social impact of physical or mental impairment" (p. 93), and argues that textual sources, most specifically law codes, can give us some insight into the value placed on impaired people. Her chapter first explores the values placed on different categories of people in terms of compensation for injury, _wergild_, finding that particular injuries had different values attributed: "The loss of a foot or eye was compensated for at 50 shillings, while a disabled shoulder was valued at 30 shillings, and loss of an ear at 25" (p. 95). The law codes were particularly concerned with injuries that stopped a free male from participating in full adult social life with the responsibilities entailed; any impairment that blocked these responsibilities was seen as needing to have a corresponding level of compensation. Crawford's chapter also explores the status of the _Unmaga_, a term used to encompass people with a range of social and physical weaknesses or dependencies, and included the old, the young, and the impaired. Associations between sin and impairment also flourished in this period, making visible impairments much more of a threat to an individual's social status. At the same time, Crawford argues that illness and the struggle against it could be seen as virtuous, as in the case of King Alfred's (physically invisible) disease. Crawford then examines the stipulations on burial that are to be found in a variety of Old English sources. She finds that there was no specific barrier to the burial of impaired people as a recognized category within consecrated ground, and it was only women who died in childbirth, infants who were not baptized, and men who died in battle who were to be excluded, as were any individuals who were estranged from Christian communities and churchyard burial due to crime, suicide, or witchcraft. Crawford suggests that while they were not specifically singled out, impaired people may have come into conflict with these laws if their impairments caused them to be estranged from the community, for example if their impairments affected their ability to fulfil perceived normal adult duties. As an example, she highlights that laws of Canute, requiring the learning of the Paternoster as a prerequisite to be considered a Christian, could have negatively affected the status of people with speech or hearing impairments. Crawford concludes that in the later Anglo-Saxon period, while there were few laws that specifically set out to marginalize impaired people as a recognized category of the disabled in the community, "bodily infirmity led to a weaker social position, and comparatively increased vulnerability" (p. 100); and that impairments or physical deformities that went against scruples of the time, or interfered in one's ability to fulfil social obligations, could lead to social disablement and potential estrangement in terms of burial treatment and location. While Crawford finds that the documentary evidence does not necessarily demonstrate the marginalized burial of the physically impaired, Hadley's essay, "Burying the Socially and Physically Distinctive in Later Anglo-Saxon England," forms a useful counterpart by looking at the burial record at a range of sites. Hadley's chapter begins by defining the normal burial of the seventh to eleventh centuries, which was "largely west-east aligned, supine and unaccompanied with grave goods" (p. 103), but with some well-recognized variants in terms of the construction and lining of the grave. She also examines exceptions to these norms. She finds that exceptional burials, both in terms of elaborate grave construction and prestigious location, as well as marginalized or deviant forms of burial, were typically allocated to men. Unusual and marginalized burials seem to have often been provided for men with physical impairments or unusual forms of death. An example of this included an individual who seemingly died a violent death as evidenced by cuts on the cranium, vertebrae, and right humerus, as well as a further individual who had suffered a wound to the knee joint. Both were buried on the margins of the eleventh-century cemetery at North Elnham. Three physically impaired men at the site of Raunds were also found on the margins of the cemetery, with one having had a stone placed in his mouth in a form of burial treatment unique to this cemetery. At Ripon, Hadley found evidence of physically distinctive and impaired men in marginalized contexts. Isolated burials, ditch burials, and burials with unusual bodily positions, such as laying prone, are discussed and associated with the physically impaired. Hadley is also careful to note that there are multiple examples of individuals with various impairments who did not receive a burial that was at all remarkable, including an individual from Black Gate, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, who showed signs of long-term paralysis of the limbs and who would have required significant care to have survived into adulthood. In another case, she discusses an individual with a swollen left tibia who would not have been able to have had the leg extended; the leg was positioned flexed in the grave and packed with stones, suggesting care for this person and their individual needs in death. The presence of the physically impaired in churchyard burials is taken by Hadley to potentially be indicative of the ability for families and communities to be inclusive and caring for impaired people, although she urges caution in how far we read such attitudes into the evidence. Hadley's piece therefore suggests that we need to pay close attention to other aspects of an individual's identity in historical context and how they intersected with impairment if we are to understand social disability through this evidence. Both Crawford's and Hadley's chapters demonstrate that impairment was not viewed as a singular category in this period, and that in terms of the textual and archaeological record we can recognize that it had the most negative repercussions for free-born males, whose expected social roles and obligations were most interfered with by the presence of an impairment. While both essays acknowledge that our ability to make these inferences is limited by the partial nature of osteological evidence, the evidence we do possess can give us substantial insight into attitudes toward disability that isolated examination would miss. Although disability is not their focus, two other chapters in this volume utilize palaeopathological and burial evidence to provide some insight to the social processes that surrounded infirmity in this period. In "Investigating Social Status Using Evidence of Biological Status: A Case Study from Raunds Furnell," Elizabeth Craig and Jo Buckberry examine the relationship between osteological signifiers of episodes of biological stress, such as reduced stature, interrupted periods of skeletal growth, and signs of malnutrition and nonspecific infection, and variability of grave form as a means to investigate the link between social and biological status through the study of the cemetery from Raunds Furnell. This chapter provides a useful linking of concerns and methods drawn on, usually discretely, by social archaeologists and bioarchaeologists. As the authors state, "this paper aims to emphasize the potential of the combination of such methods and the need to tackle the lack of this form of integrated cemetery analysis" (p. 128), and in doing so this chapter presents some interesting results. The authors provide data that demonstrates the link between a lack of elaborate burial form and individuals who showed signs of having suffered higher levels of biological stress during their lives. The authors make a case that "early Christian burial was not egalitarian" (p. 138). While this essay does not explicitly discuss disability per se, the link between archaeological evidence of status and ill health is of clear interest to disability historians. The authors clearly demonstrate the value of integrated approaches to understanding identities that link the biological and social. In addition to Craig and Buckberry's palaeopathological study, a site case study by Sarah E. Groves, "The Bowl Hole Burial Ground: A Late Anglian Cemetery in Northumberland," summarizes the findings of excavations in the village of Bamburgh, including the results of palaeopathological study of the individuals interred on the site. A range of impairments arising from infectious diseases, dental diseases, arthritic conditions, and trauma to the body from injury and interpersonal violence were encountered. One individual of particular interest was found to give evidence of ongoing systemic infectious disease that affected the bones, and which was active still at the point of death. Groves argues that while the illness "may have greatly impacted on her quality of life and may have required her to be cared for by the community, her burial was not unusual in any way" (p. 121). Groves refers back to Hadley's discussion of disease and burial, which invites the reader to use Crawford's and Hadley's approaches to consider how the woman's social and legal standing may have made her manner of death relatively unproblematic in comparison to other societal groups. The other examples provided illustrate a variety of impairments experienced by people in this community, and the Raunds Furnell study serves to remind the reader of the prevalence of these impairments in past societies and to ask how this would have shaped perceptions of disability. The other chapters are of less direct interest from a disability history perspective, but represent a strong diversity of topics and approaches in themselves. In "Cemetery Diversity in the Mid to Late Anglo-Saxon Period in Lincolnshire and Yorkshire," Buckberry demonstrates, through a detailed survey of various types of non-churchyard burial sites, execution cemeteries, and isolated burials, that contrary to common perception, diversity of burial location and treatment was characteristic of the later Anglo-Saxon period. Howard Williams focuses on wealthy grave goods assemblages found in the graves of females in the conversion-period graves of the seventh and eighth centuries in "Engendered Bodies and Objects of Memory in Final Phase Graves." He finds that certain artefacts buried in the graves of wealthy females of this time functioned as parts of "regimes of body management and adornment" (p. 35) in the engendering of aristocratic body on both life and display in the act of burial. In "Burial Practice in Seventh-Century Hampshire: St Mary's Stadium in Context," Nick Stoodley places the burial sequence at two discrete burial sites, uncovered in the course of development of St Mary's football stadium in Southampton, in their wider context. Stoodley again highlights the theme of volume of diversity and complexity of burial rites in this period of transition. Annia Kristina Cherryson, in "'Such a resting-place as is necessary for us in God's sight and fitting in the eyes of the world': Saxon Southampton and the Development of Churchyard Burial," utilizes another specific case study of a site to examine the rate at which the phenomenon of church burial was adopted in the urban settlement of Hamwic and highlights the diversity of practices still prevalent once this burial location had been adopted. Continuing the site case studies, Christopher Guy presents the results of the excavation of a cemetery, in "An Anglo-Saxon Cemetery at Worcester Cathedral," and places them in the context of what they tell us of the development of the Anglo-Saxon town. James Holloway examines the use of charcoal grave-linings in the construction of symbolic identities for the dead in "Material Symbolism and Death: Charcoal Burial in Later Anglo-Saxon England." He proposes that the consistency of such rites being practiced across time and space in this period suggest the rite as having had a recognized identity attached to it, albeit one that we can no longer recognize due to a lack of corresponding textual evidence. The chapters outlined in this volume will be of clear interest to scholars of medieval disability history and the archaeology of disability more generally. While several of the chapters focus on the link between the biological aspects of the body and its social identity and treatment in death, particularly through a palaeopathological lens, it is the contributions by Crawford and Hadley that demonstrate the most useful material and methods for the study of disability history through the linked consideration of both textual sources and fully contextualized archaeological evidence. By comparing the burial treatment of individuals with impairments to one another, and to their wider cultural context, these chapters show us an approach that enables better understanding of how the impaired were perceived and treated than occurs with individual case studies. The methods presented in this collection of essays could point the way forward for fruitfully studying similar issues in a range of different historical contexts. Citation: William Southwell-Wright. Review of Buckberry, Jo; Cherryson, Annia, eds., _Burial in Later Anglo-Saxon England, c. 650-1100_. H-Disability, H-Net Reviews. January, 2014. URL: https://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=40490 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. --