Ancient Egyptian Onomastica Plates by Alan H. Gardiner

By Alan H. Gardiner

Quantity of Plates to Alan H. Gardiner’s historic Egyptian Onomastica.

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The eighth-century Ruthwell Cross runic inscription mentions gallows, but with reference directly to the crucifixion of Christ (Bradley 1982, 5), whereas the mid-ninth-century or later poem The Dream of the Rood (which partly follows the Ruthwell inscription) records how: ‘Strong enemies seized me [the Rood] there, fashioned me as a spectacle for themselves and required me to hoist up their felons. There men carried me upon their shoulders until they set me up on a hill’ (ibid. 159–61). These literary references, although far from proving a developed legal system in the eighth and ninth centuries, reflect the locational characteristics of, and thus biblical influence on, Anglo-Saxon judical execution.

Sources, approaches, and contexts 17 Fig. 3. Late Anglo-Saxon shackles from Winchester. (After Goodall 1990a, 1013, fig. 314, cat. no. 3671, 1014, fig. 315, cat. nos 3672 and 3674. Reproduced by permission of the Winchester Excavations Committee) Eddius Stephanus’ Life of Wilfrid, written about 720, records how the saint’s captors ordered their smiths to ‘forge iron fetters’ (ch. 38; Colgrave 1927), while later poetry refers to similar instruments of confinement. The Genesis B poem, for example, speculatively dated to the mid-ninth century (Bradley 1982, 11), contains a description of hell that potentially exhibits a degree of influence based on contemporary experience.

Bearing in mind, then, that archaeological discovery and observation will only ever provide a partial sketch of patterns of disposal of human remains in the past, we can still examine the evidence to hand to establish degrees of normative and non-normative mortuary behaviour. In early Anglo-Saxon England the predominant burial rite (except where cremation prevailed) was apparently supine inhumation in graves cut into the ground (Wilson 1992, 69 and 80), normally without elaborate above-ground structures, although this latter aspect is difficult to be sure of, again owing to issues of survival and recognition in the archaeological record.

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