Klevnäs, A. (2015). Give and take: grave goods and grave robbery in the early middle ages. In Klevnäs, A. and Hedenstierna-Jonson, C., eds. ‘Own and be owned: archaeological approaches to the concept of possession’. Stockholm Studies in Archaeology 62. (157-188)
Looking forward to hearing more about the evidence from the Merovingian-period cemetery at Merxheim, Alsace, France. ‘Robbing’ is said to affect 38% of burials, with a number of other forms of post-burial interventions also identified.
Edeltraud Aspöck and Alison Klevnäs will both be at the Glasgow EAA in September 2015 talking about disturbed burials.
We’re both in Session RI12 ‘Grave disturbances: the secondary manipulation of burials’ on 3/9/15 at 1330-1800 in James Watt South, Room 355.
Alison’s also in AM5 ‘Bridging scales: Local to global perspectives on mobility, interaction, and transmission in the first millennium AD’ on 5/9/15 at 0800-1000 in Mathematics Building, Room 214.
Abstract for EAA 2015 Session RI12 ‘Grave disturbances: the secondary manipulation of burials’
Dr AM Klevnäs, Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies, Stockholm University
Grave reopening in early medieval Europe: new research perspectives
A blog entry about Viking Age grave reopening by Professor Howard Williams from the University of Chester, UK.
The boat-grave cemetery at Vendel, Uppland, is one of the iconic sites of first-millennium Sweden. The high-status grave-goods and weaponry have been widely displayed and studied since their discovery over 130 years ago. Yet it is rarely mentioned that the burial ground had been almost completely ransacked long before archaeologists stepped in. The celebrated finds are only a fraction of the wealth that was originally buried at the site.
This is the first evaluation of the evidence of disturbance from Vendel since the excavations in the late 19th century. The ancient re-opening of the graves is reconstructed through the letters and diaries of the excavator, Hjalmar Stolpe, as well as the various preliminary and final reports. Evidence is presented that the main parts of the burials, notably the human bones, were systematically dug out of nearly every grave and removed from the site. The reopening probably took place during the Christianization period, before or during the construction of the nearby church in the 13th century. This is an example of the widespread reworking of monuments at this time, specifically highlighting the significance accorded to buried human remains.