TVAS Reading: Deviant Saxon Burials at Guildown Avenue, Guildford

TVAS Reading: Deviant Saxon Burials at Guildown Avenue, Guildford

A total of nine burials were recovered on a relatively small parcel of land in Guildown, one the edge of Guildford in Surrey. Three of the graves were found to exhibit elements that were atypical to the burial practices of the area during the 6th century AD. In contrast to the standard form of burial expected on sites of Saxon date, the three atypical burials were interred within graves cut on north-south alignments rather than the more usual Christian tradition of east-west. The positions of the individuals within some of the graves were also found to be interestingly atypical. One grave originally held three people but one had been removed except for parts of his feed and hands while another grave contained the remains of two people but one had been reburied there with the bones laid out only in an approximate fashion.

Grave 9 showing 2 human skeletons in situ

Grave 9 contained two males aged between 20 and 35, both exhibiting a pathology indicative of individuals involved in strenuous activity

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 south-west England or Wales where they ate a primarily terrestrial diet.

Grave 10 showing 3 human skeletons

Grave 10 contained three individuals, two of which were males while the third individual (extreme left) has left little trace.

TVAS Osteologist, Dr Ceri Falys, has recently presented our findings of the Saxon deviant burials in Guildford to the Surrey Archaeological Society annual symposium 2019. In addition, TVAS 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. This can be purchased through our website: TVAS Publications.