Religion on the Frontier: Identity and Ritual Adaptations after the Anglo-Saxon migration
Paper by Brooke Creager
Given at the 40th Theoretical Archaeology Group Conference, on December 18, 2018
The Anglo-Saxon ‘frontier’ was the inhabited British Isles, where the native culture had a clear influence on the religious practices. Religious changes in response to frontier interactions represents a change in identity and worldview. The Anglo-Saxon groups adapted their religious practices in their new landscape. Religious rituals and materiality are tangible representations of how groups interact with the supernatural and conceptualize them. Religion is a defining aspect of identity formation and a frontier existence would have modified the nature of the practice compared to other geographic regions of the society. Residents along the frontier of a society would have had a distinctly different view than those in the core.
This paper will explore what it meant to practice religion on a frontier compared to the core, where the religion was based, by contrasting Anglo-Saxon ritual practices in Britain and the Continent. A frontier mentality would have influenced the interactions between a religious practitioner and their supernatural beings, the concerns and needs expressed would have reflected the nature of their frontier existence.
Top Image: Photo of the Spong Man pottery lid, on display at the Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery. Photo by Geni / Wikimedia Commons