Article

Pre‐Christian Practices in the Anglo‐Saxon World

Martin Welch

in The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of Ritual and Religion

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199232444
Published online September 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199232444.013.0054

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Archaeology

Pre‐Christian Practices in the Anglo‐Saxon World

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Religion and religious practices were indissoluble aspects of life and death within Anglo-Saxon society. They provided an inbuilt function of the world view of its peoples before the acceptance of Christianity in England between the late sixth century and the late seventh century ad. Fertility rites, shamanism, and belief in ghosts and spirits, ancestor-worship, and gods liable to intervene actively in the affairs of the living, appear to be the chief components. This article discusses Anglo-Saxon pre-Christian religion covering idols, cult sites, sacrifices, and offerings in Scandinavia and Germany; images and iconography in Anglo-Saxon England; human and animal sacrifice; votive offerings; sanctuaries or shrines and furnished burials; and male ‘priests’ and female witches.

Keywords: Anglo-Saxon pre-Christian religion; religious practices; human and animal sacrifice; votive offerings; shrines; burials; male priests; female witches

Article.  7108 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Archaeology

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