Page:VCH Surrey 1.djvu/327

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

ANGLO-SAXON REMAINS the early occupants of the North Downs and their contemporaries in other parts of England, in which beads have been recovered from the graves in hundreds and are seldom absent from the graves of women. In 1884, while an estate was being laid out for building purposes at Sanderstead to the east of the Croydon road, six or seven skeletons were unearthed within a space of 40 feet square, about 300 yards to the south of the railway station ; but the remains were scattered and no competent observations made till a week later, when five more graves in the line of the new road then being constructed were discovered and examined by Mr. Garraway Rice, F.S.A., who has kindly allowed the following account to be compiled from his notes l and plans of the exca- vations. The graves found on this occasion were situated upon the slope of the hill, and were from 18 inches to 2 feet in depth, cut in the solid chalk, which is only covered by about 9 inches of soil. The bodies had been laid at full length, with the arms lying straight down by the sides, and all were placed with the head to the west. The graves however, though orientated alike, were irregularly placed ; and as several had been previously found in the centre of the 50 feet roadway, it is prob- able that the limits of the cemetery had not been reached. Though a careful search was made for relics, only three articles were recovered. At the head of the first grave opened was found a small pottery vase of coarse fabric and of a dark drab colour, though showing a dull red where broken. It measured 3! inches in height and 3^ inches at the widest part, the opening at the top, which was without a lip, being 2^ inches in diameter. Like those found at Croydon 2 and Leatherhead this vessel was not wheel-made, and in this respect resembles nearly all the pottery found in pagan graves of the Anglo-Saxon period. A rough unornamented vase would have left the date uncertain had its discovery not been followed by that of two small iron knives in separate graves. These are rarely absent from Anglo-Saxon graves, and were apparently carried about on the person by both sexes for domestic and general purposes. The occurrence of a hand-made cup of dark ware at Hawkshill, near Leatherhead, should be noticed in this connexion, as a well-worn coin from the same spot, of Constantine the Great, struck about the year 330 probably at Treves, is said to have been found inside. The discovery was made about fifteen years ago and was not fully noted at the time ; but in view of the instances already cited, it is permissible to conclude that some of the skeletons found on this site in Fetcham parish were those of settlers who were buried not earlier than the middle of the fourth century. A few iron knives of the characteristic Anglo-Saxon pattern, were also found here ; and in addition an interesting piece of flat bronze ' wheel-money,' with five spokes irregularly placed and the centre unpierced. It is figured full size in an account 3 of later excava- 1 These were partly published in a letter to the CroyJon Advertizer, March 7, 1885. 8 One is preserved in the British Museum. s Society of Antiquaries, Proceedings, xviii. 253. 267