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CHER Number:06764
Type of record:Monument
Name:Burwell Anglo-Saxon cemetery

Summary - not yet available

Grid Reference:TL 590 665
Parish:Burwell, East Cambridgeshire, Cambridgeshire

Monument Type(s):

Associated Finds:

  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Early Saxon to Middle Saxon - 550 AD to 700 AD)
  • BEAD (Early Saxon to Middle Saxon - 550 AD to 700 AD)
  • BROOCH (Early Saxon to Middle Saxon - 550 AD to 700 AD)
  • BUCKLE (Early Saxon to Middle Saxon - 550 AD to 700 AD)
  • CHAIN (Early Saxon to Middle Saxon - 550 AD to 700 AD)
  • GIRDLE HANGER (Early Saxon to Middle Saxon - 550 AD to 700 AD)
  • KNIFE (Early Saxon to Middle Saxon - 550 AD to 700 AD)
  • PENDANT (Early Saxon to Middle Saxon - 550 AD to 700 AD)
  • PENDANT (Early Saxon to Middle Saxon - 550 AD to 700 AD)
  • PIN (Early Saxon to Middle Saxon - 550 AD to 700 AD)
  • PIN (Early Saxon to Middle Saxon - 550 AD to 700 AD)
  • RING (Early Saxon to Middle Saxon - 550 AD to 700 AD)
  • SEAX (Early Saxon to Middle Saxon - 550 AD to 700 AD)
  • SHEARS (Early Saxon to Middle Saxon - 550 AD to 700 AD)
  • SHERD (Early Saxon to Middle Saxon - 550 AD to 700 AD)
  • SPOON (Early Saxon to Middle Saxon - 550 AD to 700 AD)
  • TOOTH PICK (Early Saxon to Middle Saxon - 550 AD to 700 AD)

Associated Events:

  • Excavation of Burwell Anglo Saxon Cemetery, 1925-1929

Full description

1. Anglo Saxon cemetery discovered in 1884 during the working of the Victoria Lime Pits, Burwell. Probably C7 and certainly not all pagan. 150 inhumations excavated between 1925 and 1931.

O2, (07/02/1972) Cemetery first discovered in 1884 when at least 2 burials were found, followed in 1886 by the discovery of 3 more. From 1925 -1929. CAS excavated and found 127 skeletons in 123 graves. No object was found earlier than the late C6. There were no brooches except a so-called fibula found 1884 and no weapons except a scramasax. An ancient church is known to have stood near the site and Lethbridge therefore assumed this was a Christian cemetery.

2. AS items discovered at the AS cemetery. 13 knives; 9 buckles (bronze); gold disc pendant set with garnet and shell inlays; silver wire ring bearing two tooth-picks and tiny perforated silver spoon; beaver's tooth mounted in a bronze base ornamented with five bosses and a dotted star; glass beads; decayed leather strap with a knife and a pair of shears; iron girdle hangers connected by an iron chain.

9. Meaney gives grid ref TL/590-/665-. See PCAS 6/1887 (source 1. above).

10. AS cemetery lies 500yds N of the church, on the crest of a low chalk ridge at 60ft above OD. Between 1854 and 1929 at least 137 inhumations of both sexes and varying ages were found on the site. Most were discovered during excavations by TC Lethbridge between 1925 and 1929; the majority were in shallow graves, orientated E -W. There were no traces of coffins. Lethbridge excavated 127 burials of which 52 had no grave goods: 12 had knives and only four were richly furnished. The grave goods mostly consisted of iron chains, bone or bronze pins, iron buckles and beads; one scramasax and a single plain pot were found. Noteworthy objects were a bronzed rum-shaped work box and a gold disc pendant set with garnets. The cemetery probably dating from the late C6 and C7, seems to have been predominantly Christian. The excavator suggested that it lay near the site of St Andrew's church, but the connection is unlikely as the church lay 400yds to the south.

In 1973, Mr. Gedney; clerk of the council for over 23 years could offer no additional information.


<1> Clark, J.W., 1887, PCAS 6, appendix CIV (Article in serial). SCB10788.

<2> Lethbridge, T. C., 1924, The Anglo-Saxon Cemetery, Burwell, Cambridgeshire. PCAS 27: 72-9 (Article in serial). SCB10478.

<3> Ibid, 28, 1926, 116 - 125 (Lethbridge TC) (ill, plan) (Bibliographic reference). SCB6487.

<4> Ibid, 29, 1927, 84 - 94 (Lethbridge TC) (Bibliographic reference). SCB6488.

<5> Ibid, 30, 1929, 97 -109 (Lethbridge TC) (plan, photo, ill) (Photograph). SCB6493.

<6> 1931, PCAS quarto publications, NS 3, p. 47 - 70 (Monograph). SCB11060.

<7> Salzman L.F. (ed), 1938, The Victoria County History of Cambridgeshire and the Isle of Ely. Volume 1, 318 -320 (Bibliographic reference). SCB14629.

<8> 1959, OS 6 inch map (Map). SCB8966.

<9> Meaney, A., 1964, A Gazetteer of Early Anglo-Saxon Burial Sites, p. 61 - 62 (Bibliographic reference). SCB191.

<10> RCHM, 1972, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of Cambridgeshire. Volume II. North-East Cambridgeshire, 41 (Bibliographic reference). SCB13360.

<11> Phillips, C.W., Dark Age Index (Index). SCB11663.

<12> Lethbridge, T. C., Lethbridge excavation archive (Excavation archive). SCB1720.

<13> Gibson, A., 2015, Anglo-Saxon 'work boxes' and the Burwell Grave 42 Box, Christian or Pagan? PCAS 104. 149-160 (Article in serial). SCB46842.

<14> Geake, H., 1995, The use of grave-goods in conversion-period England, c.600-c.850 Volume 1: Text (Unpublished document). SCB62790.

Sources and further reading

<1>Article in serial: Clark, J.W.. 1887. PCAS 6. appendix CIV.
<2>Article in serial: Lethbridge, T. C.. 1924. The Anglo-Saxon Cemetery, Burwell, Cambridgeshire. PCAS 27: 72-9.
<3>Bibliographic reference: Ibid, 28, 1926, 116 - 125 (Lethbridge TC) (ill, plan).
<4>Bibliographic reference: Ibid, 29, 1927, 84 - 94 (Lethbridge TC).
<5>Photograph: Ibid, 30, 1929, 97 -109 (Lethbridge TC) (plan, photo, ill).
<6>Monograph: 1931. PCAS quarto publications, NS 3. p. 47 - 70.
<7>Bibliographic reference: Salzman L.F. (ed). 1938. The Victoria County History of Cambridgeshire and the Isle of Ely. Volume 1. 318 -320.
<8>Map: 1959. OS 6 inch map.
<9>Bibliographic reference: Meaney, A.. 1964. A Gazetteer of Early Anglo-Saxon Burial Sites. p. 61 - 62.
<10>Bibliographic reference: RCHM. 1972. An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of Cambridgeshire. Volume II. North-East Cambridgeshire. 41.
<11>Index: Phillips, C.W.. Dark Age Index.
<12>Excavation archive: Lethbridge, T. C.. Lethbridge excavation archive.
<13>Article in serial: Gibson, A.. 2015. Anglo-Saxon 'work boxes' and the Burwell Grave 42 Box, Christian or Pagan? PCAS 104. 149-160.
<14>Unpublished document: Geake, H.. 1995. The use of grave-goods in conversion-period England, c.600-c.850 Volume 1: Text.