Crime and Punishment

Andrew Reynolds

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

Crime and Punishment

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  • Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Archaeology



This article demonstrates how landscapes carry the imprint of power and focuses on one of its most severe manifestations — capital punishment. A brief sketch is provided of judicial behaviour. The evidence from execution cemeteries is then given, exploring aspects such as their location and relationship to existing landscape features, and the range of burial types encountered within them. Further evidence for non-churchyard burial, such as isolated burials including those at crossroads, is also addressed and related to the central theme. Execution cemeteries often contain multiple burials. This article generally shows how archaeological evidence can make a substantial contribution to debates about aspects of society only usually approached using written evidence. It also illustrates that rather than highlighting divisions between the disciplines of archaeology and history, much can be gained by focusing on points of contact in a positive way.

Keywords: capital punishment; landscapes; power; judicial behavior; execution cemeteries; burials; crime; archaeology

Article.  7946 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Archaeology

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