Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

This site is entirely user-supported. See how you can help.

Saxonbury Anglo-Saxon cemetery

A Scheduled Monument in Lewes, East Sussex

Approximate Location Map
Large Map »
Street or Overhead View
Contributor Photos »

If Google Street View is available, the image is from the best available vantage point looking, if possible, towards the location of the monument. Where it is not available, the satellite view is shown instead.

Coordinates

Latitude: 50.8679 / 50°52'4"N

Longitude: -0.0016 / 0°0'5"W

OS Eastings: 540718.624161

OS Northings: 109497.440287

OS Grid: TQ407094

Mapcode National: GBR KQ2.DFV

Mapcode Global: FRA B6WT.35X

Entry Name: Saxonbury Anglo-Saxon cemetery

Scheduled Date: 9 October 1979

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1002213

English Heritage Legacy ID: ES 477

County: East Sussex

Civil Parish: Lewes

Built-Up Area: Lewes

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Sussex

Church of England Parish: Lewes St John the Baptist

Church of England Diocese: Chichester

Summary

Anglo-Saxon inhumation cemetery, 57m north-west of the Coach House.

Source: Historic England

Details

This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 4 September 2014. The record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.

The monument includes an Anglo-Saxon inhumation cemetery surviving as buried archaeological remains. It is situated on gently sloping land either side of Saxonbury House in Southover, on the south side of Lewes.

The cemetery was uncovered during the building of Saxonbury, and in the grounds adjoining, in 1891. It was partially excavated and a total of 32 skeletons were recovered in an area of about 40m by 15m. Most of the burials were found lying east-west. These burials were accompanied by a rich assemblage of grave goods including iron knives, swords, spearheads, remains of shields, as well as ornaments such as brooches and beads. A few of the graves were found empty, the bones having perished, and some did not include grave goods.

The cemetery has been dated to the 6th century AD but may have continued in use until the 7th century. In 1975, an excavation on the site of a road to the south did not uncover any further burials but the exact limits of the cemetery have not been identified.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Beginning in the fifth century AD, there is evidence from distinctive burials and cemeteries, new settlements, and new forms of pottery and metalwork, of the immigration into Britain of settlers from northern Europe, bringing with them new religious beliefs. The Roman towns appear to have gone into rapid decline and the old rural settlement pattern to have been disrupted. Although some Roman settlements and cemeteries continued in use, the native Britons rapidly adopted many of the cultural practices of the new settlers and it soon becomes difficult to distinguish them in the archaeological record. So-called Anglo-Saxon cemeteries are dated to the early Anglo-Saxon period, from the fifth to the seventh centuries AD. With the conversion to Christianity during the late sixth and seventh centuries AD, these pagan cemeteries appear to have been abandoned in favour of new sites, some of which have continued in use up to the present day. Burial practices included both inhumation and cremation.

Anglo-Saxon inhumation cemeteries consist predominantly of inhumation burials which were placed in rectangular pits in the ground, occasionally within coffins. The bodies were normally accompanied by a range of grave goods, including jewellery and weaponry. The cemeteries vary in size, the largest containing several hundred burials. Around 1000 inhumation cemeteries have been recorded in England. They represent one of our principal sources of archaeological evidence about the Early Anglo-Saxon period, providing information on population, social structure and ideology. All surviving examples, other than those which have been heavily disturbed, are considered worthy of protection.

Although it has been partially disturbed by 19th century construction work, the Anglo-Saxon inhumation cemetery, 57m north-west of the Coach House, survives well, and has been shown by partial excavation to contain archaeological remains and environmental evidence relating to the cemetery and the landscape in which it was used.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Other
East Sussex HER MES1668. NMR TQ40NW4. PastScape 405849.,

Source: Historic England

Other nearby scheduled monuments

AncientMonuments.uk is an independent online resource and is not associated with any government department. All government data published here is used under licence. Please do not contact AncientMonuments.uk for any queries related to any individual ancient or schedued monument, planning permission related to scheduled monuments or the scheduling process itself.

AncientMonuments.uk is a Good Stuff website.