Anglo-Saxon, Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, Anglo-Saxon Period, Archaeology, Artefacts, Britain, CHII, Culture, Dark Age, Dark Ages, England, Funerary Archaeology, History, Identity, ieldran, Mapping, North Sea Region, Pagan, Public engagement, the Dark Ages
So I’ve been working with Katy Meyers over at Bones Don’t Lie on a little side project. It is called ieldran, which is Old English for ‘ancestors’, and is effectively an interactive map of early Anglo-Saxon cemeteries. It is by no means complete, but the first build was officially published this week and you can see it here.
The project used the dataset from my MA dissertation, ‘Early Anglo-Saxon Cremation in 2013: Knowledge, Understanding and the EASCREM 13 Database Project’, and Katy’s superb technical (and research) skills to create a Cultural Heritage Informatics Initiative Project as part of her Fellowship with them. It allows the user to manipulate a map of 266 burial sites and discover information about each site. I had wanted to do something like this with the data myself, but there is no way I could have produced anything like this. Katy really has done an incredible job here.
There are currently three layers available: ‘Streets’, which includes modern routeways and settlements, ‘Imagery’ which uses satellite imagery and ‘Hybrid’, which mixes the two. The ‘Imagery’ tab is very useful for understanding how burial sites were situated in the natural landscape. The ‘Streets’ layer, on the other hand, is incredibly fun to play around with and see how ancient burial sites relate to the modern world. I didn’t realise that my house in Reading was so close to one!
At the moment ieldran includes (almost) all known fifth- to seventh-century burial sites that contain cremation burials. As such, the map should in no way be seen as complete because, due to current research constraints, cemeteries of this date without cremation burials have not yet been considered. This is primarily because I was only looking at the cremation rite for my MA dissertation. We will be working towards adding new sites and features in the future.
A key aim of the project is to open it up to the community and allow people to contribute their own data. With the help of other specialists this could really become a very useful resource. Whilst we are still in the early stages of the project, I hope you’ll agree that the potential here is quite exciting.
Summary of my MA dissertation: (email me if you want to discuss it)
This dissertation reports on the findings of the Early Anglo-Saxon Cremation in 2013 database project (EASCREM 13); a national survey of the evidence for cremation burial in early Anglo-Saxon England ca. AD 400-650. The project is part of a structured and extensive review of our knowledge and understanding of the earliest Anglo-Saxon mortuary custom. As a whole, this study is intended to inform debate on the direction and future of cremation studies, and to function as a useful scholarly resource in developing our understanding further. In the first part, the evidence is fully introduced and described in its wider historical and archaeological context. Following on from this, the rationale, approach, results and evaluation of the project are detailed, including the provision of national statistics and up-to-date distribution maps. The third and final part is historiographical in nature, and charts the development of our understanding and treatment of the evidence, as well as offering a general interpretation, recommendations for future study and some concluding remarks.