Information for record number MWA605:
Site of Saxon Cemetery 100m N of Bidford Bridge

Summary The site of a cemetery dating to the Anglo-Saxon period, known from archaeological excavations and finds. It is located 100m north of Bidford Bridge.
What Is It?  
Type: Mixed Cemetery
Period: Unknown
Where Is It?  
Parish: Bidford on Avon
District: Stratford on Avon, Warwickshire
Grid Reference: SP 09 51
(Data represented on this map shows the current selected record as a single point, this is for illustrative purposes only and does not represent an accurate or complete representation of archaeological sites or features)
Level of Protection National - Old SMR PrefRef (Grade: )
Sites & Monuments Record
Picture(s) attached

 
Description

 
Source Number  

1 In 1921 workmen found around 23 skeletons and other 'articles' including brooches from a cutting for a new road just north of the High Street at Bidford. The finds indicated a probable Anglo-Saxon cemetery site and in the summer of 1922 a large excavation took place by Members of the Birmingham Archaeological Society and the Society of Antiquarians of an area to the north and west of the new road cutting in an area of gravel subsoil. Around 80 inhumations were discovered with a variety of grave goods confirming an Anglo-Saxon date to the early 6th Century. The finds included 26 spear heads, 31 knives, arrow heads, shield bosses, 2 buckets, a bronze bowl and a fragment of a second one, a bronze box, numerous brooches, glass and amber bead necklaces, rings, pins, 2 bone combs and straighteners, metal tweezers and other metal objects and fragments. In addition 17 complete cremation urns were discovered with fragments of approximately 120 others. Charcoal was noted throughout the site in thiirteen cases in the pelvis area of inhumations. A large hearth was also discovered with fire cracked stones.
2 Further excavations were carried out in the summer of 1923 expanding the excavated area outwards, particularly to the west. On the eastern side a distinct line of around 18 burials was discovered aligned with the head to the west and this appears to form the eastern edge of the cemetery. This eastern line appeared to continue further to the south in an area excavated on the southern side of the 1921 road cutting. Four inhumations were discovered here again with the head aligned to the west. To the north 32 inhumations and 7 cremations were found and it was believed the edge of the cemetery had again been discovered with finds petering out. To the west 38 burials were found with 6 cremation urns. Again throughout the area fragments of other creation urns was discovered. Charcoal was noted again predominately in the pelvis and leg areas of burials. 10 spear heads, 30 iron knives, 4 shield bosses, a bonze bowl, necklaces, brooches, numerous other metal objects, a bone comb and fragment of another were all recovered. Analysis of the alignment of the burials from the 1922 and 1923 excavations showed concentrations with the head to the south and west (35 and 27 respectively) with all others with their head mainly pointing south west with a few SSE and NNW. The total number of individuals from the 1921-23 excavations was noted as 170.
3 Further details of the 1921-23 excavations records that 21 of the graves were of children; eleven were unfurnished, two had knives only. Of the 166 adult graves 55 were unfurnished, and 18 had knives only. Among the associated objects were brooches - saucer, applied, disc, penannular, flat-annular, small-long, large and small square-headed, swastika and cruciform; pendants; wrist-clasps; finger-rings; silver pins; several necklaces of amber, glass and paste beads; a large ivory ring; a bronze disc; buckles; spearheads; knives; shield-bosses, but no swords; five pottery accessory vessels, and two bronze bowls. The cemetery appears to have had a long life.
4 OS Card.
5 Descriptive text.
6 Descriptive text.
7 Descriptive text.
8 Preliminary investigations in 1971 in advance of road construction near to the site of the pagan Saxon cemetery produced 2 cremations and 3 inhumations about 50m N of the limits of the 1923 excavation. One grave was badly disturbed, another - that of a young woman - contained a situla and a pair of saucer brooches. A third grave contained a small long brooch of square headed type and a type G penannular brooch as well as a long iron pin and a pierced bronze disc, a knife, a purse mount and a necklace of 36 glass and amber beads. Taken to indicate a greater extent to the earlier known cemetery rather than another separate burial area. Evidence of domestic occupation was also found (PRN 6132).
9 Further excavations in 1975, 1978 and 1979 located further evidence of domestic occupation and 3 graves. Of the graves 2 are probably 6th century, the third probably early 7th century. In addition 4 unaccompanied graves were found on the SE of the site.
10 excavations in 1982 produced other graves of Anglo-Saxon and Roman date. These included 10 inhumations, 4 accompanied by grave goods. burial 3 had a simple disc brooch, burial 4 had two small long brooches a decorative pin and belt fittings, burial 5 had a simple disc brooch, burial 6 had 2 spearheads, a knife and belt fittings.
11 A bronze strap end was found nearby at SP 099518. This probably dates to between c.450 and 700 AD.
12 Discussion of 1971 burial HB2 indicated deposition in the first 3/4 of the 6th century. Suggested as a 'cunning woman' due to the nature of her grave goods with a special role in society for beneficial magic, healing protection and divination.
13 Skeletal analysis determined that one of the burials (HB12) had green staining suggesting contact with a bronze object. Also suggested the the individual was a robust male used to physical labour who may have been involved in mining or agricultural work such as harvesting with a scythe. The latter seems more likely given the location.
14 Archival material from 1971-2.
15 A watching brief and excavation took place in 1990 during construction of the car park at the rear of the Anglo-Saxon pub. 17 inhumation burials with a number of grave goods (spearheads, knives, shield bosses, brooches, beads, pottery) were discovered. The burials are likely to date from the period AD 550-700.
16 An evaluation of land to the rear of the Anglo-Saxon pub in 1998 (WA 8220) found no evidence for a continuation of the cemetery to the south and west.
17 Find of an Anglo Saxon brooch fragment in the constructors' waste (of the car park excavation) in May 1990.
18 Archival correspondence.
19 On 21st March 1874 some workman extracting gravel for Mr J. W. Smith in Bidford discovered a 'male' skeleton, with a necklace of 36 beads, possibly amber, a pendant (brooch) in a heart shape, two metal rings and several other metal ornaments. No other information relating to the site or location is available. On 1st July 1876 two workmen extracting gravel for Messrs. Sill and Son at Bidford discovered two skeletons, one six feet below ground surface the other only 1 foot below ground. The teeth were noted as 'sound' and that the finds were available on display with Messrs. Sill and Son establishment. No other information relating to the site or location is available. It has been suggested that these skeletons must have been found in the area of Victorian Quarrying to the north of the Anglo-Saxon Pub.
20 Archival material.
21 No finds or features related to the cemetery were noted during observation to the rear of the former Anglo-Saxon public house.
 
Sources

Source No: 3
Source Type: Bibliographic reference
Title: EAS Burials
Author/originator: Meaney A
Date: 1964
Page Number: 258
Volume/Sheet:
   
Source No: 7
Source Type: Bibliographic reference
Title: Medieval Archaeology vol 18
Author/originator: TRY
Date: 1984
Page Number: 244
Volume/Sheet: 18
   
Source No: 9
Source Type: Bibliographic reference
Title: Medieval Archaeology vol 24
Author/originator: Webster L E and Cherry J
Date: 1980
Page Number: 233
Volume/Sheet: 24
   
Source No: 10
Source Type: Bibliographic reference
Title: Medieval Archaeology vol 28
Author/originator: Young S M et al
Date: 1984
Page Number: 244
Volume/Sheet: 28
   
Source No: 12
Source Type: Bibliographic reference
Title: In Search of Cult: Archaeological Investigations in Honour of Philip Rahtz
Author/originator: Tania M Dickinson
Date: 1993
Page Number: pp45-54
Volume/Sheet:
   
Source No: 18
Source Type: Correspondence
Title:
Author/originator: Humphreys, John et al.
Date: 1921-4
Page Number:
Volume/Sheet:
   
Source No: 20
Source Type: Excavation archive
Title: Bidford AS cemetery
Author/originator:
Date: 1920s
Page Number:
Volume/Sheet:
   
Source No: 14
Source Type: Excavation archive
Title: Anglo Saxon cemetery (Bidford Bypass)
Author/originator:
Date: 1972
Page Number:
Volume/Sheet:
   
Source No: 17
Source Type: Museum Enquiry Form
Title: WMEF 2073
Author/originator: WM
Date: 1990
Page Number:
Volume/Sheet:
   
Source No: 11
Source Type: Museum Enquiry Form
Title: WMEF 304
Author/originator:
Date: 1985
Page Number:
Volume/Sheet: 304
   
Source No: 2
Source Type: Excavation Report
Title: Archaeologia
Author/originator: Humphreys J et al
Date: 1925
Page Number: 271-88
Volume/Sheet: 74
   
Source No: 1
Source Type: Excavation Report
Title: Archaeologia
Author/originator: Humphreys J et al
Date: 1923
Page Number: 89-116
Volume/Sheet: 73
   
Source No: 16
Source Type: Evaluation Report
Title: Arch Eval to the rear of The Anglo-Saxon, High St
Author/originator: Jones, C
Date: 1998
Page Number:
Volume/Sheet:
   
Source No: 19
Source Type: Newspaper/Magazine Article
Title: Bidford AS skeletons and burials.
Author/originator: Various
Date: 1874 on
Page Number:
Volume/Sheet:
   
Source No: 21
Source Type: Observation Report
Title: Archaeological Observation to the rear of the former Anglo-Saxon Public House, High St, Bidford-on-Avon
Author/originator: Palmer, S
Date: 2005
Page Number:
Volume/Sheet:
   
Source No: 4
Source Type: Record Card/Form
Title: OS Card 25NE6
Author/originator: Ordnance Survey
Date: 1968
Page Number:
Volume/Sheet:
   
Source No: 6
Source Type: Serial
Title: TBAS vol 50
Author/originator:
Date: 1924
Page Number: 64
Volume/Sheet: 50
   
Source No: 5
Source Type: Serial
Title: TBAS vol 49
Author/originator: Major Godsal
Date: 1923
Page Number: 62-3
Volume/Sheet: 49
   
Source No: 15
Source Type: Serial
Title: WMA vol 33
Author/originator: Booth P M
Date: 1990
Page Number: 85
Volume/Sheet: 33
   
Source No: 8
Source Type: Serial
Title: WMANS no 14 1971
Author/originator: Ford W
Date: 1971
Page Number: 21
Volume/Sheet: 14
   
Source No: 13
Source Type: Unpublished document
Title: Report on Skeletal Material from Bidford
Author/originator: Wilkinson JL
Date: 1981
Page Number:
Volume/Sheet: Report on Skeletal M
   
Images:  
Excavation of an Anglo Saxon cemetery at Bidford on Avon
Copyright: Warwickshire County Council
Click here for larger image  
 
Glass beads found during the excavation of an Anglo Saxon cemetery at Bidford on Avon
Copyright: Warwickshire County Council
Click here for larger image  
 
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Glossary

 
Word or Phrase
Description  
source Archaeologia Archaeologia, a journal published by the Society of Antiquaries of London. The journals contain articles relating to the archaeology of Britain and Europe. Recent copies are held at the Warwickshire Sites and Monuments Record. back
source OS Card Ordnance Survey Record Card. Before the 1970s the Ordnance Survey (OS) were responsible for recording archaeological monuments during mapping exercises. This helped the Ordnance Survey to decide which monuments to publish on maps. During these exercises the details of the monuments were written down on record cards. Copies of some of the cards are kept at the Warwickshire Sites and Monuments Record. The responsibility for recording archaeological monuments later passed to the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historic Monuments. back
source TBAS Transactions of the Birmingham and Warwickshire Archaeological Society is a journal produced by the society annually. It contains articles about archaeological field work that has taken place in Birmingham and Warwickshire in previous years. Copies of the journal are kept by the Warwickshire Sites and Monuments Record. back
source WMA West Midlands Archaeology. This publication contains a short description for each of the sites where archaeological work has taken place in the previous year. It covers Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, West Midlands and Worcestershire. Some of these descriptions include photographs, plans and drawings of the sites and/or the finds that have been discovered. The publication is produced by the Council For British Archaeology (CBA) West Midlands and is published annually. Copies are held at the Warwickshire Sites and Monuments Record. back
source WMANS West Midlands Archaeological News Sheet, a publication that was produced each year, this later became West Midlands Archaeology. The West Midlands Arcaheological News Sheet contains reports about archaeological work that was carried out in the West Midlands region in the previous year. It includes information about sites dating from the Prehistoric to the Post Medieval periods. It was produced the Department of Extramural Studies at Birmingham University. Copies are held at the Warwickshire Sites and Monuments Record. back
source WMEF Warwickshire Museum Enquiry Form. These are forms that are filled in when a person brings an object to Warwickshire Museum to be identified. Amongst the information recorded on the form are details such as a description of the object, where and when it was found, and in some cases a sketch or photographs of it. Copies of the form can be viewed at the Warwickshire Sites and Monuments Record. back
technique excavation Archaeologists excavate sites so that they can find information and recover archaeological materials before they are destroyed by erosion, construction or changes in land-use.

Depending on how complicated and widespread the archaeological deposits are, excavation can be done by hand or with heavy machinery. Archaeologists may excavate a site in a number of ways; either by open area excavation, by digging a test pit or a trial trench.
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period Roman About 43 AD to 409 AD (the 1st century AD to the 5th century AD)

The Roman period comes after the Iron Age and before the Saxon period.

The Roman period in Britain began in 43 AD when a Roman commander called Aulus Plautius invaded the south coast, near Kent. There were a series of skirmishes with the native Britons, who were defeated. In the months that followed, more Roman troops arrived and slowly moved westwards and northwards.
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period Medieval 1066 AD to 1539 AD (the 11th century AD to the 16th century AD)

The medieval period comes after the Saxon period and before the post medieval period.

The Medieval period begins in 1066 AD.
This was the year that the Normans, led by William the Conqueror (1066 – 1087), invaded England and defeated Harold Godwinson at the Battle of Hastings in East Sussex.
The Medieval period includes the first half of the Tudor period (1485 – 1603 AD), when the Tudor family reigned in England and eventually in Scotland too.

The end of the Medieval period is marked by Henry VIII’s (1509 – 1547) order for the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the years running up to 1539 AD. The whole of this period is sometimes called the Middle Ages.
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monument CREMATION * A funeral rite in which the human body is burnt, usually on a pyre, leaving fragmentary charred or completely combusted remains. Often found buried, occasionally in a container associated with grave goods. back
monument SITE * Unclassifiable site with minimal information. Specify site type wherever possible. back
monument INHUMATION * An interment of unburnt, articulated human remains. Use specific type where known. back
monument STONE * Use only where stone is natural or where there is no indication of function. back
monument ARCH * A structure over an opening usually formed of wedge-shaped blocks of brick or stone held together by mutual pressure and supported at the sides; they can also be formed from moulded concrete/ cast metal. A component; use for free-standing structure only. back
monument URN * A garden ornament, usually of stone or metal, designed in the the form of a vase used to receive the ashes of the dead. back
monument FEATURE * Areas of indeterminate function. back
monument GRAVE * A place of burial. Use more specific type where known. back
monument MIXED CEMETERY * A cemetery containing more than one burial type eg cremations and inhumations. back
monument ROAD * A way between different places, used by horses, travellers on foot and vehicles. back
monument HEARTH * The slab or place on which a fire is made. back
monument WELL * A shaft or pit dug in the ground over a supply of spring-water. back
monument BRIDGE * A structure of wood, stone, iron, brick or concrete, etc, with one or more intervals under it to span a river or other space. Use specific type where known. back
monument CEMETERY * An area of ground, set apart for the burial of the dead. back
monument CAR PARK * A place where cars and other road vehicles may be parked and left. back
monument SQUARE * An open space or area, usually square in plan, in a town or city, enclosed by residential and/or commercial buildings, frequently containing a garden or laid out with trees. back
monument BURIAL * An interment of human or animal remains. Use specific type where known. If component use with wider site type. Use FUNERARY SITE for optimum retrieval in searches. back
monument PUBLIC HOUSE * The public house was a 19th century development, distinctive from the earlier BEER HOUSE by its decorative treatment and fittings. back
monument DOMESTIC * This is the top term for the class. See DOMESTIC Class List for narrow terms. back

* Copyright of English Heritage (1999)

English Heritage National Monuments Record