Tag Archives: Anglo-Saxon

Almanac – March 17

1040 – Harold Harefoot died. King of England from 1035 to 1040. His cognomen “Harefoot” referred to his speed, and the skill of his huntsmanship.

 He was the younger son of Cnut the Great, king of England, Denmark, and Norway by his first wife, Ælfgifu of Northampton, although  Florence of Worcester (12th century) claimed  that Ælfgifu wanted to have a son by the king but was unable to, so she secretly adopted the newborn children of strangers and pretended to have given birth to them. Harold was reportedly the son of a cobbler, while his brother Svein Knutsson was the illegitimate son of a priest. Its probably a myth.

Harold died at Oxford,  of “a mysterious illness”, although an Anglo-Saxon charter attributes the illness to divine judgment…not least because he’d alledgedly defrauded some monks out of land that they had their covetous eyes on.

He was buried at Westminster Abbey… for a while.  His body was subsequently exhumed, beheaded, and thrown into a fen bordering the Thames when Harthacnut assumed the throne in June 1040.

 The body was  recovered by a fishermen, and resident Danes reportly had it reburied at their local cemetery in London, before it was eventually buried in a church in the City of Westminster, St. Clement Danes.

 A contradictory account in the Knýtlinga saga (13th century) reports Harold buried in the city of Morstr, alongside his half-brother Harthacnut and their father Cnut. While mentioned as a great city in the text, nothing else is known of Morstr.

 

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Anglo-Saxon Woman Buried With Cow

Archaeologists excavating an Anglo-Saxon cemetery in Cambridgeshire say the discovery of a woman buried with a cow is a “genuinely bizarre” find.

The grave was uncovered in Oakington by students from Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Central Lancashire. At first it was thought the animal skeleton was a horse.

Student Jake Nuttall said: “Male warriors might be buried with horses, but a woman and a cow is new to us. We were excited when we thought we had a horse, but realising it was a cow made it even more bizarre.”

Co-director of the excavation, Dr Duncan Sayer, from the University of Central Lancashire, said: “Animal burials are extremely rare, anyway. There are only 31 horse burials in Britain and they are all with men. This is the first animal to be discovered with a woman from this period – the late 5th Century – and it’s really interesting that it’s a cow, a symbol of economic and domestic wealth and power.

“It’s also incredibly early to find any grave of a woman buried with such obvious wealth.”


The skeleton was found with grave goods including brooches and hundreds of amber and decorated glass beads.

“She also had a complete chatelaine [keychain] set, which is an iron girdle and a symbol of her high status,” Dr Sayer said. “It indicates she had access to the community’s wealth.
She is almost certainly a regional elite – a matriarchal figure buried with the objects that describe her identity to the people who attended her funeral.”

Joint director Dr Faye Simpson, from Manchester Metropolitan, said: “A cow is a big thing to give up. It’s a source of food and something that would have been very expensive to keep, so to sacrifice it would be a big decision.

“They would have wanted to give her something really important to show respect and they wouldn’t have done that for just anybody. That’s why we don’t find cows with burials,”

Dr Sayer added: “The cow burial is unique in Europe which makes this an incredibly exciting and important find. I don’t think I’ll find anything as significant as this again in my lifetime.”

 

 

Mr. Frankenstein

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