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SHARP secures National Lottery support for “Working with a Disarticulated Community” project

SHARP’s recent application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for the project ‘Volunteering with a Disarticulated Community: Towards Re-association of Anglo-Saxon Bones’ was successful and work on the project has begun.

SHARP carried out excavations on the site of an Anglo-Saxon cemetery at Sedgeford, Norfolk from 1996 to 2007 and recovered the remains of almost 300 burials. The site has been dated to the middle Anglo-Saxon period and is believed to have been used as a cemetery from 650AD to 850AD. This is a time when incomers from Europe were settled and the main Anglo-Saxon kingdoms had formed. Sedgeford would have been in the kingdom of the East Angles.

Skeleton with disarticulated bone from other individual(s) placed around the edge of the grave.

At the time of its use for burial when graves were dug, they intercut each other and ditches were dug across the cemetery site. The land has been ploughed in modern times. These processes have disturbed a number of graves and bones have been broken and moved around. SHARP volunteers specialising in human remains have gathered a large amount of information from the 300 burials, but thousands of disarticulated bones are still to be recorded.

A deposit of disarticulated bone within the Anglo-Saxon cemetery site.

Using the Lottery funding, SHARP will run three training courses with follow on opportunities for volunteers to work on recording the disarticulated bones. Course participants will be taught how to record and analyse the disarticulated bones, giving those with no previous experience of human remains an opportunity for hands on research which is usually reserved for specialists. Two courses will be run at the SHARP site in Sedgeford July 2019 (you can find out more details about the 2019 course here) and summer 2020. For the first time, SHARP will also run the same course in Cheltenham for Gloucestershire Archaeology to reach more volunteers and keep up progress on the project when the Sedgeford site is closed.

Thanks to National Lottery players, volunteers will be able to study age at death, disease and injury of the people who lived in Sedgeford in the 7th to 9th centuries. This will give an idea of the general health of the population, how long they lived, the type of work they did and how this affected them through their life. All of the analysis will be completed by 2021 and the results will be published. The specialist skills gained by those participating can be applied to other local projects afterwards. The general public can learn more about the project and its results at the annual SHARP Festival of Archaeology (Sunday 21st July 2019), the public site tour in the afternoon of Friday 19th July and the public lecture held in Sedgeford in the evening of Tuesday 23rd July.

This project has been made possible through funding from National Lottery Heritage Fund, Norfolk and Norwich Archaeological Society and Sedgeford Parish Council.


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