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‘I always intended to write up my discoveries,’ she says, and now she has found the time to do it. There is a great deal more to be found in ‘Flesh and Bones’ than the basic story. Annette includes much of her research sources, timelines and poetry from the period, together with intriguing connections from snippets of historical facts. She questions accepted facts, and even wonders if Frome marked a boundary between Saxons and Britons. Was our town a settlement even before the coming of St Aldhelm?


Readers will also notice the artwork in the book. Annette is a prize-winning artist and the illustrations are all her own work. When not painting or reading for her work, she enjoys historical fiction and the books of FWC members as recommended by our own Silver Crow.

‘Flesh and Bones’ can be bought at The Hunting Raven bookshop for £12.95. It is a good read, and well worth the investment for anyone wanting to discover the roots of the people of Frome’s historic landscape.





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Annette Burkitt believes with a passion that the people of a landscape are shaped by that landscape. Layer upon layer of the population grow the culture of a place, and in turn are reshaped by it. She has grown to understand this through walking and running in the area around Frome from the age of 16, and from years of archaeological research in regional record offices. She says that even while still at Frome Grammar School (as it then was) she explored Neolithic and Bronze Age sites, for instance at Cold Kitchen Hill, and felt they called out, ‘come and find out about me, find out about my people’. And she has done just that.


Annette with St John's Church in the background. St John's is believed to have been built on the site of an earlier Saxon building


Annette gives him the private name of Stone, used by three young clerks through whose eyes the story and details of Saxon life unfolds. Two of these are real characters, Dunstan, born at Baltonsborough, later to become Archbishop of Canterbury and Leofa, who appears in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as a thief. The narrator, Nonna, introduces the events of 934 and describes the contents of an old chest brought from Glastonbury Abbey. It holds manuscripts which reveal the lost British or Welsh culture which underlies the Saxon. Annette has found that understanding the meaning of place names gives her insight to the place itself, and therefore to its people. ‘Looking at place names in a different way is like discovering a whole new world. It gives you a sense of identity, of closeness to the landscape and your own history.’

Annette has found that understanding the meaning of place names gives her insight to the place itself, and therefore to its people.

Again, her rigorous research into early language discovers place names that reveal a past that has been hidden. ‘Because of modern technology, we can destroy landscape features, which may have important archaeological information, so quickly, so easily, and it’s lost forever.’ A meaningful landscape is less likely to be destroyed. Knowledge of former culture and beliefs may link us to the land and understanding place-names can remind us of our responsibility to be guardians.

Her book, ‘Flesh and Bones’ is a thoroughly researched, fictionalised narrative of the people and the places around Frome in pre-conquest times and particularly during the year 934, when the winter court of King Athelstan, grandson of Alfred, took place in Frome.

Was our town a settlement even before the coming of St Aldhelm?

Annette herself is born of local ancestral people – from Witham Friary, Trudoxhill, and eventually Frome. At Frome College she studied art, geography and literature, leading her to a degree in archaeology and geography, and work doing archaeological research for three local county councils. She married and went to live in Spain, worked on agricultural projects in The Sudan, then came home and studied law. Her research later led her to teach and give community education lectures on local history, archaeology and folklore. Now that her understanding of the people and landscape of Wessex has materialised into her book, ‘Flesh and Bones’, Annette feels she is being led into further research. She is interested in the later 10th century and its historical characters as well as 12th century places and events locally.

Annette is also fascinated by how different faiths and branches of the early Christian church affected everyone. Dunstan is the thread that links them, together with the religious relics that were so precious to the early Church. These relics became part of the control exerted by the powerful over the ordinary people, which included slaves and lepers. She always looks for local evidence of them, not just the better-documented royalty.

Flesh and Bones