A Curious Invitation present London Month of the Dead
THE FEAR OF GOD - Burial rituals in the early Middle Ages
A talk at the Dissenters Chapel with Historian Andrew Reynolds
Sunday the 10th October 2021 at 1:30 pm

Death was very much a part of life in the early Middle Ages. With wars, famines, plagues and infant mortality always ready to whisk you off to an early grave it is no wonder that life expectancy for men in the 13th Century was just 31 years. With the prospect of such a short lifespan Medieval society gave serious thought to death, judgement and the afterlife. The fear of God and of ending up in Purgatory or Hell was a very real one.

Funerals for those who died a “good death” were elaborate affairs, involving the washing of the body, a vigil and Masses being said for the safe passage of the soul of the deceased, and could involve a degree of oneupmanship for wealthier families. Executed criminals on the other hand were usually interred away from church graveyards to prevent them gaining the access to Heaven that burial in sanctified ground would facilitate.

In his talk Andrew Reynolds will examine the emergence and development of churches and churchyards in London against the backdrop of the Conversion of the London region and its impacts upon the burial topography of the post-Roman city. It seems clear that religious change was slower than assumed, and that local communities buried their dead in a wide range of situations before the widespread building of local churches in the later 10th and 11th centuries.

Tickets £12 including a 20% donation toward a host of restoration projects at Kensal Green Cemetery. Please click here to purchase.

Andrew Reynolds
Andrew Reynolds is Professor of Medieval Archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology, UCL. He has written books and articles and appeared in TV programmes relating to archaeology and history. He has a long running interest in the archaeology of London, having excavated a Soho townhouse and recorded various buildings in the city, including Westminster Abbey, the London Guildhall and St Bride’s Church in Fleet Street. He is the author of Anglo-Saxon Deviant Burial Customs (2009)

Image Credit - Anubis, the Egyptian Guardian of the Dead, preparing a mummy; located in the tomb of Sennedjem, Thebes, Egypt. Public Domain courtesy of Joanna Ebenstein.
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