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The revival of Uncleby: An antiquarian excavation of an Anglian cemetery - Volumes 1 & 2

The revival of Uncleby: An antiquarian excavation of an Anglian cemetery - Volumes 1 & 2
Abigail Reid Hansen


Department of Archaeology, University of York, York YO10 5DD, UNITED KINGDOM.


The primary aim of this thesis is to contextualise the 19th century excavation of the Anglian cemetery at Uncleby, East Yorkshire by Canon William Greenwell. The site is important for our understanding of Anglo-Saxon England; it dates to the transition to Christianity, and it contains a number of unusual burial forms and grave goods, most famously a whetstone which has been compared to the example from Sutton Hoo. However, information about the discoveries was not made available until 1912, when R.A. Smith presented a paper to the Society of Antiquaries of London. To date this remains the most detailed account of the site, and the excavations have never been properly published. The remaining archive and the recovered objects from the excavation, most of which can be found in the Yorkshire Museum, have provided the basis of this research. By using the objects and contemporary sources, the findings of the excavation and relevant material are presented in detail for the first time, and a full artefact and grave catalogue has been produced, and a major new geophysical survey of the site has been conducted.

The object catalogue and the survey have informed a new discussion of the site and its significance. Furthermore, this thesis highlights a neglected source of information in the archaeological record: antiquarian excavations. In the 19th century countless sites were excavated by amateur archaeologists and antiquarians, many of which have become lost in museum collections. By utilizing these sites and making the data available, researchers have access to new datasets that have the potential to provide new knowledge.