By Dennis Harding
Archaeologists have lengthy stated the absence of a customary and recurrent burial ceremony within the British Iron Age, and feature seemed to rites corresponding to cremation and scattering of is still to give an explanation for the reduced impact of funerary practices at the archaeological checklist. Pit-burials or the deposit of disarticulated bones in settlements were brushed aside as informal disposal or the continues to be of social outcasts. In dying and Burial in Iron Age Britain, Harding examines the deposition of human and animal continues to be from the interval - from entire skeletons to disarticulated fragments - and demanding situations the belief that there must have been any commonplace type of cemetery in prehistory, arguing that the lifeless have been probably built-in into settlements of the residing than segregated into devoted cemeteries. Even the place cemeteries are recognized, they could but signify not more than a minority of the complete inhabitants, in order that different kinds of disposal needs to nonetheless were practised. an extra instance of this is often present in hillforts which, as well as family and agricultural settlements, obviously performed a huge function in funerary ritual, as safe neighborhood centres the place excarnation and exhibit of the useless could have made them a powerful image of id. the amount evaluates the proof for violent demise, sacrifice, and cannibalism, in addition to age and gender differences, and institutions with animal burials, and divulges that 'formal' cemetery burial or cremation was once for many areas a minority perform in Britain till the eve of the Roman conquest. Read more...
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Additional resources for Death and burial in Iron Age Britain
But the doubt remains as to whether what we might regard as measures of material wealth or status correlate with the priorities of Iron Age communities, and whether they chose to signal social status through burial and grave associations. It seems more probable that status in Iron Age society was measured in terms of land holding or numbers of stock, or reputation of individuals in terms of martial skills and achievements. From evidence adduced by Karl (2006b) regarding contracts and legal obligations between individuals, it seems likely that the number of contractual dependants would also have been an important measure of an individual’s status, which would be hard to quantify archaeologically.
Classical sources give us too little information to make any inferences, while the Irish sources show some signiﬁcant differences from Welsh in the early historic period, so that it would be unwise to transpose models based on these regions into pre-Roman Britain, where different conventions again may have pertained. Both, nevertheless, are worth serious consideration at the same level as ethnographic or historical sources, that is, subject to due critical limitations. Archaeologically there is little evidence in the British Iron Age, and certainly not in southern and eastern Britain, for the effects of partitive inheritance upon the Iron Age landscape, though apparently conjoined round-houses and in Roman Britain the occasional appearance of ‘unit’ villas (Harding, 2004: 161–2) might hint at the effects of joint inheritance.
OUP CORRECTED PROOF – FINAL, 14/10/2015, SPi 32 Death and Burial in Iron Age Britain 20657 ‘shrines’ 20277 20761 ‘shrines’ 20562 enclosure 20706 20095 20252 cremations pyres and pyre-related features 20484 30 0 metres Fig. 2 Westhampnett, Sussex, cemetery plan. Drawing adapted from Fitzpatrick, 1997. The ritual purpose of the ‘shrines’, like comparable examples from sites such as Danebury, was not proclaimed by any associated votive deposits, though their ditches all contained burnt human fragments and pyre debris and in two instances there were similar deposits in scoops within the enclosures.
Death and burial in Iron Age Britain by Dennis Harding