LOEFFELMANN, TESSI (2023) There and back again - mobility and burial rites in early medieval England c. AD 400-1000: an analysis of strontium isotopes in cremated human remains. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.
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Author-imposed embargo until 07 February 2024.
Observable changes in funerary rites in early medieval Britain culminate in the re-appearance of cremation in the 5th and 6th centuries, and again briefly in the 9th century. These changes are traditionally linked to questions of mobility and encompass many thousands of individuals. Analyses making use of isotopic systems have been immensely successful in the exploration of inhumed, unburnt remains in the last few decades - touching on the diet, mobility, and the lifecycle of individuals, and recent work on cremated remains has shown that some of these isotope analyses are also reliable when conducted on calcined bone. Following on from this work, this thesis aims to test whether strontium isotope analysis on cremated remains can be used to extract new information from early medieval cemeteries to investigate such aspects as mobility, animal-human relationships, and social practice of the cremating communities. The project uses multi-skeletal sampling to explore the mobility history of cremated individuals buried at the 5th to 7th century mixed-rite cemeteries at Ingleby Barwick, Stockton-on-Tees, and Cleatham, North Lincolnshire, as well as at the 9th century Scandinavian barrow cemetery at Heath Wood, Ingleby, Derbyshire. Plants within 25km catchments around the sites were sampled to establish the variation of bioavailable 87Sr/86Sr, ameliorating the sample density and therefore precision of existing Sr isoscapes.
The application of strontium isotope analysis uncovered what appears to be regional mobility amongst the cremating communities at Cleatham and Ingleby Barwick, and long-distance mobility from Scandinavia at Heath Wood. At Cleatham, the larger sample of individuals (54 humans and 4 animals) also allowed us to observe that women, born outside the 25km catchment, moved more frequently into the area than men. This was noted to pertain especially to the early phase of use of the cemetery and highlights that trends in mobility may change across time. Animal-human relationships were explored with reference to the strontium isotope results and agency/personhood theory at all three case-study sites. This work is the first of its kind with a focus on the early medieval period in Britain and its results show that the method has enormous potential to unlock aspects of mobility, animal-human relationships, and social practice of the cremating communities.
|Item Type:||Thesis (Doctoral)|
|Award:||Doctor of Philosophy|
|Keywords:||strontium isotopes; cremation; early medieval; Vikings; animal-human relationship; mobility|
|Faculty and Department:||Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Archaeology, Department of|
|Copyright:||Copyright of this thesis is held by the author|
|Deposited On:||07 Feb 2023 16:40|