UNGETAUFTE UND UNWÜRDIGE? MITTELALTERLICHE BESTATTUNGEN BEI DER KIRCHE AUF DER UNTEREN HOLZWIESE VON THUNAU, NIEDERÖSTERREICH
Unbaptised and unworthy? Medieval burials at the church of the Untere Holzwiese of Thunau, Lower Austria
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On the Schanzberg of Thunau, a hilltop well known for its early medieval centre of power, a church and a few burials were archaeologically investigated on the plateau of the ‘Untere Holzwiese’ in 1975 and the 1980s. The systematic evaluation of the burials and the 14C-dates of the church as well as of some of the burials allow new insight concerning their dating as well as interpretation. The church is mainly investigated regarding its secondary function as a burial place. It was earliest built in the late of the 10th and latest before the last third of the 13th c. and was ruinous between the late of the 13th and the late 14th c., which would fit the closing down of the castle Thunau. Five children (fetus to infans I) and one grown up were buried in and around this church in the High and Late Middle Ages. Examples are a fetus that was laid down on the demolished wall of the apse and a neonate buried inside of the apse. The burials and the church are contextualized in historical and archaeological terms as well as by stressing the topic of child burials close to and in churches. Incorporating theories about social space the special position of the church in the local landscape becomes more clearly as well as its secondary function regarding later burials. As there was no regular cemetery here, these buried were obviously neglected a regular Christian burial. Yet they were laid down close to a (remote) church without burial rights to positively influence their problematic post-mortem-identity. This and their mostly very young age indicates – regarding medieval written sources about baptism and afterlife topography as well as other archaeological investigations of this topic – that their unbaptized status is a likely interpretation. Further on another problematic dead, a slayed man, was buried here in the High Middle Ages, being banned by special burial rites.
353 – 378
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