[Edited by Martin Carver] For decades scholars have puzzled over the true story of settlement in Britain between the fifth and eight centuries. Did the Romans leave? Did the Anglo-Saxons invade? What happened to the British? New light on these questions comes unexpectedly from Wasperton, a small village on the Warwickshire Avon, where archaeologists had the good fortune to excavate a complete cemetery and its prehistoric setting. The community reused an old Romano-British agricultural enclosure, and built burial mounds beside it. There was a score of cremations in Anglo-Saxon pots; but there were also unfurnished graves lined with stones and planks in the manner of western Britain.
In a pioneering analysis, including radiocarbon and stable isotopes, the authors of this book have put this variety of burial practice into a credible sequence, and built up a picture of life at the time. Here there were people who were culturally Roman, British and Anglo-Saxon, pagan and Christian in continuous use of the same graveyard and drawing on a common inheritance. Here we can see the beginnings of England and the people who made it happen - not the kings, warriors and preachers, but the ordinary folk obliged to make their own choices: choices about what nation to build and which religion to follow.
MARTIN CARVER is Professor Emeritus of Archaeology at the University of York; Dr CATHERINE HILLS is Senior Lecturer in Anglo-Saxon Archaeology at the University of Cambridge; Dr JONATHAN SCHESCHKEWITZ is Officer with the Ancient Monuments authority of Stuttgart.