Anglo-Saxon Concepts of Dis/Ability: Placing Disease at Great Chesterford in Its Wider Context

  • Sonia ZakrzewskiEmail author
  • Stephanie Evelyn-Wright
  • Sarah Inskip
Part of the Bioarchaeology and Social Theory book series (BST)


Within Anglo-Saxon society , individuals obtained their status on the basis of their ability to undertake required and prescribed social roles . People experiencing impairment, be that as a result of disease or some other process including trauma or pregnancy, might thus have reduced ability to undertake socially required activities. These people would have been highly visible within contemporary society by their very inability to undertake all required roles. These ideas are explored using a cluster of inhumations from the early Anglo-Saxon cemetery at Great Chesterford. Cemetery topography, visibility of difference, liminality , and etiology are explored in order to suggest the importance of the development of a sample-based approach to osteobiography. These might then be used to establish local understandings of disability, whereby individuals are viewed as people with focus placed on ability.


Anglo-Saxon Visibility Liminality Deviancy Burial rite Personhood Social role 



We would like to thank Dr Simon Mays, Dr Joanna Sofaer and Dr Jo Buckberry for their comments and insightful conversation over our studies of the Great Chesterford cemetery. We would like to thank Dr Kathy Dettwyler for helpful discussions in theorizing and framing this work. And finally our thanks go again to the editors and the two anonymous reviewers for their very helpful comments on an earlier draft of this work.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sonia Zakrzewski
    • 1
    Email author
  • Stephanie Evelyn-Wright
    • 1
  • Sarah Inskip
    • 2
  1. 1.ArchaeologyUniversity of SouthamptonSouthamptonUK
  2. 2.Faculteit ArchaeologieUniversiteit LeidenLeidenThe Netherlands

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