The Mucking Anglo-Saxon cemeteries

Sue Hirst, Dido Clark, 2010

Data copyright © Sue Hirst, Dr Dido Clark, English Heritage unless otherwise stated

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Mucking archive image

Image caption: The burial of a child at the south-east end of Cemetery II on the edge of the Mucking terrace; view looking east over the marshes to the Mucking Creek (left) and the River Thames, with the Kent shore in the distance (artist Judith Dobie; © English Heritage Images)

The Anglo-Saxon cemeteries at Mucking, Essex, represent the burials of over 800 individuals from the 5th to early 7th centuries AD. The mixed rite Cemetery II is one of the largest and most complete Anglo-Saxon cemeteries yet excavated (282 inhumations, 463 cremation burials), while the partly destroyed Cemetery I included further significant inhumations.

The quality and quantity of the evidence from graves of the first half of the 5th century, with cultural affinities primarily with the Elbe-Weser area, is unsurpassed. By the later 5th and the 6th century the cemetery was primarily 'Saxon' in character, but with some Anglian and eastern Kentish influences; Frankish (and in one case Alamannic) artefacts were also found. The dating is based on seriation analysis of the inhumation artefact assemblages and is combined with an innovative maximisation of demographic data from soil silhouettes and important evidence for coffins and costume.

Mucking can now be seen as a particularly extensive Anglo-Saxon settlement, of at least 100+ individuals, commanding an important strategic position in the lower Thames region; it may have functioned as a meeting place and mart for surrounding areas on both sides of the Thames.