Three Alpha Females

The Essay, Anglo-Saxon Portraits Episode 4 of 30

Portraits of thirty ground-breaking Anglo-Saxon men and women.

The Anglo Saxons are somewhat out of fashion, yet the half millennium between the creation of the English nation in around 550 and the Norman Conquest in 1066 was a formative one.

This major new series rediscovers the Anglo-Saxons through vivid portraits of thirty individuals, written and read by leading historians, archaeologists and enthusiasts in the field.

4.Three Alpha Females: Martin Carver brings back to life three powerful pagan women

Archaeologist Martin Carver had devoted his career to re-animating the lives of individuals silenced in their graves. As he puts it: "lives which we can glimpse in a string of beeds, feel in the undulating surface of a metal sword handle".

Famous for his excavations of the ship burial at Sutton Hoo, Martin is also particularly fascinated by what archaeology can reveal about the lives of women: "some say history has not been kind to women, but archaeology reports both sexes equally; and in their graves the Anglo-Saxons celebrated their women as much as their men - or more so".

Describing in loving detail the graves of what he calls three "Anglo-Saxon Alpha Females", he re-animates the lives of a privileged pagan girl from the earliest period; a "cunning woman" with her bag of tools and healing herbs; and a princess buried in her bed.

Through them, he recreates the lives of other women in the early era "before Christian government succeeded in clamping down on diversity and rewriting the rules."

Producer: Beaty Rubens.

Release date:

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15 minutes

Last on

Thu 31 Jul 2014 22:45

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