Novum Inventorium Sepulchrale

Kentish and Anglo Saxon Grave Goods in the Sonia Hawkes Archive

Antiquarian Grave Goods

The county of Kent is exceptionally rich in Anglo-Saxon cemeteries. Systematic excavations of some of these cemeteries in the 18th and early 19th centuries provided a wealth of finds that reflect Kent's close political and economic ties to the Frankish world in the 5th to 7th centuries. Excavations by the Revd Bryan Faussett in 1757-73 uncovered c. 750 graves from sites at Crundale, Guilton, Kingston Down, Bishopsbourne, Barfrestone and Sibertswold Downs, Bekesbourne and Chartham Down. Further excavations, in particular those carried out at Bifrons and Sarre in the 19th century, raised the number of excavated graves to well over 1000. The bulk of information was made available to subscribers in the Inventorium Sepulchrale (Faussett 1856) and in the journal Archaeologia Cantiana.

In 1961, the need to re-publish this important material to a modern standard led Sonia Hawkes of the University of Oxford's Institute of Archaeology to undertake the publication of Kentish cemeteries as the first stage of a national monograph series, the Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Graves and Grave-Goods. Work carried out between 1961 and 1971 dealt with the c. 1140 graves and large numbers of unassociated objects from Bifrons, Sarre and the seven sites excavated by Faussett, resulting in an extensive archive comprising object descriptions, drawings, photographs and X-rays. The Bifrons burials have been posthumously published elsewhere (Hawkes 2000). This website, made possible by a grant from the is Arts and Humanities Research Council, makes the remainder of the archive widely available for the first time. It is hoped that it will enable future generations of researchers to gain a better understanding of the origins of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms.

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