TVAS News


Deviant Saxon Burials at Guildown Avenue, Guildford


A total of nine burials were recovered on a relatively small parcel of land in Guildown, Surrey, three of which were later found to exhibit elements that were atypical to the burial practices of the area during the 6th centaury. In contrast to the standard form of burial expected on sites of Saxon dates, the three atypical burials were interred within graves cut on north-south alignments, which were positioned in an area unassociated with a local church.

Grave 9 interred 2 males aged between 20 and 35, exhibiting a pathology indicative of individuals involved in strenuous activity

A limited number of grave goods were recovered, however they could not provide a relative date due to the poor condition of the artefacts. Radiocarbon dating has provided a range of absolute dates that place the age of the burials between AD 771- 1015. Further isotope analysis suggested that the individuals were not of local descent but rather travelled from an area in SW England or Wales; primarily surviving on a terrestrial diet.

While it is hard to draw conclusions from the evidence presented with no reference to sites of a similar nature, the excavation does highlight a number of elements that are of interest to Saxon studies. The burials themselves, deviant in character, are thought to represent an isolated Sub-Roman tradition of burial; and the individuals therefore represent a small cultural minority actively practising their own traditions.

Grave 10 interred 3 individuals, 2 of which were males while the third individual (extreme left) has left little trace

TVAS very own Osteologist, Ceri Falys, has recently presented our findings of Saxon deviant burials in Guildford to the Surrey Archaeological Society annual symposium 2019. In addition we have produced an occasional paper- "Further Burials in the Guildown Saxon Cemetery at Guildford, Surrey" (Lewins&Falys), that covers the excavation and assemblage in detail, which can be purchased through our website.

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