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Religion on the Frontier: Identity and Ritual Adaptations after the Anglo-Saxon migration

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.

Click here to view Brooke Creager’s webpage at the University of Minnesota

Top Image: Photo of the Spong Man pottery lid, on display at the Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery. Photo by Geni / Wikimedia Commons

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