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date: 19 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Stressing the interest that the study of medieval Christian burials might have for archaeologists in general, this chapter highlights the ideological dominance of the Christian Church in medieval Europe. Burial in this period generally involves a fairly uniform set of very simple practices. Elite burial involved a range of more distinctive practices, including above-ground monuments, specific burial locations within churches, and the possibility of being buried in more than one place—rendering their graves more obvious in the Middle Ages and leaving a much stronger signature in the archaeological record than those of ‘ordinary folk’. However, the apparent simplicity of burial ritual is misleading; medieval societies were strongly focused on expectations of the afterlife and enormous resources were poured into building and endowing religious buildings and monastic communities in order to influence these. This included quite elaborate ceremonies at the time of death, and its anniversary, but this is only evident in the written record.

Keywords: Christian, medieval, Europe, cemetery, monument, social order

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