Headless bodies give insight into Saxon-style justice

From the Yorkshire Post: Grisly discovery of headless bodies gives insight into justice Saxon style.

Once they were spectacular resting places to honour the dead.

But with pagan Britain’s conversion to Christianity, the Bronze Age burial mounds came to be regarded with suspicion as places where devils and dragons lurked.

It was at one such site in East Yorkshire that the Anglo-Saxons chose to bury the worst kind of criminals, away from hallowed ground, leaving their heads to rot on stakes.

The latest archaeological techniques have now thrown a new light on an eerie cemetery – the only one so far discovered north of the Humber – where the decapitated bodies of executed criminals were laid to rest.

The dozen skeletons – 10 without their heads – were discovered by archaeologists in the late 1960s in a Bronze Age barrow at Walkington Wold, sparking theories that it has been the site of a massacre, a series of executions or even a Celtic head cult.

But a new study by two Yorkshire archaeologists, involving radiocarbon dating and a re-analysis of the bones, has uncovered gruesome new evidence about how the victims – all men – met their deaths. [continue]