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Old age in viking-age Britain

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Chapter Summary

To understand how old was old in Viking-Age Britain, and how the elderly were perceived and treated, one must first understand when, where and what is meant by the culture under consideration. Viking-Age Britain is a term of convenience used to describe the heterogeneous culture of ninth- to eleventh-century Britain, exhibiting an admixture of influences from Scandinavia and the indigenous Scottish and Anglo- Saxon cultures. Archaeological remains can assist one in deciding who is old, through an investigation of skeletal pathology, but also how the old were subsequently cared for in death, and whether the old were treated differently than any other age group in mortuary practice. Cecily Clark suggests that personal names reflect social attitudes, and thus one may survey the etymologies and meanings of names attested for Viking-Age Britain for further evidence of contemporary attitudes towards the old.

Keywords: Anglo- Saxon cultures; old age; Viking-age Britain



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