ANGLO-SAXON REMAINS the manner usually associated with the Christian profession ; and it has been more than once inferred by writers on the subject that burials not so orientated are of pagan origin and presumably earlier in date. There is much to be said for this view, and plentiful evidence in its favour both in this country and abroad. Burgundians, for instance, who were con- verted to Christianity early in the fifth century, were found almost without exception to have been buried unburnt and with the head to the west in the extensive cemeteries excavated by M. Baudot at Charnay ; and a similar uniformity of orientation was observed in a supposed Visi- gothic cemetery discovered in the Charente at Herpes, described by M. Barriere-Flavy. The same may be said of Selzen on the Rhine, and of the burials in Normandy excavated by the Abbe Cochet, though whether these last were all of Christian converts is certainly open to question. It may be assumed that as the influence of the Church spread among the Teutonic conquerors of Britain, the common pagan custom of burning the dead, or burying them in full dress with their weapons, ornaments and personal utensils, would gradually give place to the more simple rites of primitive Christianity. The scanty furniture of the graves at Sanderstead and elsewhere in Surrey might indeed be reason- ably explained by the supposed poverty of the deceased, but the assump- tion is unnecessary here if the east and west position is accepted as a proof that these were all burials of Christians. In the present state of knowledge it would be unwise to dogmatize on the point, for positive proof is still wanting that the distinction was uniformly observed. Negative evidence there is in plenty, for, in the first place, no Christian emblem is known in this country from a cremated burial or from any unburnt interment with the head placed to the south or south-west. In our own country, where Christianity was not fully re-established till at least the middle of the seventh century, the direction of the graves varies considerably. Cemeteries have been discovered, as at Marston St. Lawrence, Northants, in which the bodies lay regularly with the head to the south-west. 1 Other sites have been found to contain burials in both directions, as Long Wittenham, Berks, while Kentish graves are almost invariably east and west. 2 As Kent was the first to receive the emissaries of Rome, it might be inferred that the graves of that king- dom were principally of Christian converts ; but it should be noted that in the neighbouring kingdom of the South Saxons, who were among the last to accept baptism, the east and west position is usual. Account must also be taken of Kentish subjects buried before the end of the sixth century ; and many must have met their death in the century and a half that is supposed to have elapsed since the traditional arrival of Hengest and Horsa in 449. These difficulties may eventually prove to be not insuperable, and the Christian character of the east-and-west burials is again confirmed by at least two discoveries in this country of objects distinctly connected 1 A plan is given in ArchxokgM, xlviii. pi. Mii. * Inventorium Sepukbrale, p. 39. 269
Page:VCH Surrey 1.djvu/329
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