The Archaeology of Paganism

Aleks Pluskowski

in The Oxford Handbook of Anglo-Saxon Archaeology

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199212149
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Archaeology

 The Archaeology of Paganism

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This article describes how the archaeology of early Anglo-Saxon religion can contribute to the understanding of variety within a pre-Christian world-view where many elements were shared by societies across the North Sea and Baltic. Evidence for paganism in Old English place-names has been traditionally used to reconstruct the topography of belief in early Anglo-Saxon England. The symbolic use of animals is one of the most visible aspects of early Anglo-Saxon religion. There has been increasing interest in the mutability of Anglo-Saxon paganisms in response to religious systems within Britain. As with the earlier Anglo-Saxon migration, religion was intimately associated with identity. Early Anglo-Saxon religion can be understood on many levels, with variation arising as a result of local responses to changing social and political situations; however, for archaeologists the most visible indicators of Anglo-Saxon spirituality are in the symbolic roles played by animals.

Keywords: Anglo-Saxon paganisms; Anglo-Saxon England; Anglo-Saxon religion; North Sea; Baltic; animals; Anglo-Saxon spirituality; migration

Article.  6540 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Archaeology

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