Anglo-Saxon Amulets and Curing Stones


Anglo-Saxon Amulets and Curing Stones is an archaeological study of amulets, talismans and curing stones in the burial record of Anglo-Saxon England. Written by the Australian archaeologist Audrey Meaney, it was published by the company British Archaeological Reports as the 96th monograph in their BAR British Series. Prior to writing the work, Meaney had published several books dealing with Anglo-Saxon burials. In the book, Meaney opines that scholars can understand more about Anglo-Saxon beliefs regarding magic by looking at the archaeological evidence for amulets and related magic items found buried in graves. Looking at the literary evidence for magical practices, she goes on to look at a wide variety of items found in Anglo-Saxon inhumation burials which might have had amuletic properties. She categorises such artefacts into a series of overarching categories, including vegetable amulets, mineral amulets, animal amulets, manufactured amulets and found amulets, to each of which she devotes a chapter. Concluding her study, Meaney argues that amulets were primarily worn by women and children in Anglo-Saxon England, and that there were certain females, whom she termed "cunning women", who worked in a specific magical capacity for their local communities. The book received a mixed review from the academic Hilda Ellis Davidson in the Folklore journal. Meaney herself produced a rebuttal to Ellis Davidson in the following issue. Meaney's ideas regarding Anglo-Saxon cunning women would subsequently be adopted by fellow archaeologist Tania Dickinson.
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part of the series: BAR British Series
original title: Anglo-Saxon Amulets and Curing Stones
language: English
date of publication: 1981
main subject: Anglo-Saxon archaeology, Anglo-Saxon England


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