Signals of Belief in Early England: Anglo-Saxon Paganism Revisited [Paperback]

Martin Carver (Editor); Alex Sanmark (Author); Sarah Semple (Author)

ISBN: 9781842173954 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Year of Publication: 2010 | Language: English 208p, H242 x W170 (mm) 35 b/w illus

Signals of Belief in Early England


This volume will throw new light on the intellect of the earliest English - the way they thought, the way they viewed the world, and the way they viewed worlds other than this. Previous understanding of the topic, well rooted in the ideas of its time, regarded the English as adherents of two consecutive religions: Paganism governed the settlers of the 4th-6th century, but was superseded in the 7th-10th century by Christianity. Of the two, Christianity, a religion of the book, documented itself thoroughly, while in failing to do so Paganism laid itself open to centuries of abuse, conjecture or mindless admiration. In developing new objectives, the papers here demonstrate that beliefs varied from place to place and were expressed in material culture. Through archaeology therefore, these beliefs can be rediscovered. Aware of the fact that even the best archaeology provides no open access to the mind, the contributors record, and study, signals of belief rather than what was believed. The premise of this volume is therefore that paganism was not a religion with supraregional rules and institutions but a loose term for a variety of local intellectual world views. The same courtesy is extended to Christianity. Both religions are treated as sources on which people, local people - the true agents of Anglo-Saxon England - eclectically drew. A range of material culture and locations across Northern Europe are explored, looking at signals of belief from the landscape, water cults, burial rites, the hall and animals in life and art. Each author looks across the sea to Scandinavia, as well as to the woods and fields, mires and mounds of Old England, resulting in a new perspective on the intellectual preoccupations and anxieties of a crucial age.

Table of Contents

Foreword: Heathen Songs and Devil's Games (Neil Price)

1. Agency, Intellect and the Archaeological Agenda (Martin Carver)
2. In the Open Air (Sarah Semple)
3. At the Water's Edge (Julie Lund)
4. At the Funeral (Howard Williams)
5. In the Hall (Jenny Walker)
6. Animal Magic (Aleks Pluskowski)
7. Horses in Mind (Chris Fern)
8. Living On: Ancestors and the Soul (Alexandra Sanmark)
9. Creating the Pagan English (Sue Content and Howard Williams)

Afterword: Caveats and Futures (Ronald Hutton)

Product Tags

Use spaces to separate tags. Use single quotes (') for phrases.