The literal translation of dustsceawung is ‘contemplation of the dust.’ And that is essentially what it is describing, the contemplation of the physical remains of the past. ‘Dust’ is simply being used as a shorthand for the larger concept. This kind of substitution of a related word or of a part for the whole is known in modern English as metonymy. However, Old English is full of such metaphorical compound words, specifically called kennings. ‘Whale-road’ refers to the ocean for instance, and ‘sky-candle’ describes the sun.
Well, would you look at that! I’m just going to reblog this and leave it here: interesting etymology regarding my username.
That’s absolutely fine, and thanks so much for asking and offering to credit. The name is E. Usher. Good luck with your dissertation!