Signals of Belief in Early England

Signals of Belief in Early England
Author : M. O. H. Carver
Publisher : Oxbow Books Limited
Total Pages : 212
Release : 2010
ISBN 10 : 1842173952
ISBN 13 : 9781842173954
Language : EN, FR, DE, ES & NL


This volume attempts to throw new light on the mentality of the earliest English - the way they thought, the way they viewed nature and the supernatural. Previous approaches have regarded the English as adherents of two consecutive religions, paganism and Christianity. Paganism held sway among the Anglo-Saxon settlers from the 4th to the 6th century, but Christianity superseded it from the 7th to the 10th century. Of the two Christianity documented itself thoroughly. Paganism failed to do so, and thereby laid itself open to centuries of abuse, conjecture or mindless admiration. Although archaeology does not provide direct access to the mind, it can reveal a great deal about pagan mentalities through analysis of the signals of belief left in material culture. Scrutinising a range of material from locations across northern Europe in Scandinavia as well as England the authors of the current volume demonstrate that beliefs varied from place to place. The conclusion of this volume is that `paganism' does not refer to a specific set of religious beliefs with geographically widespread rules and institutions. Instead `paganism' is a loose term for a variety of local world views and practices. Anglo-Saxon Christianity also appears in a similar light as a source on which communities in different localities drew selectively. Overall the volume offers a new perspective on the preoccupations and anxieties of a crucial age.

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