Funerary rites afforded to children in Earlier Bronze Age Britain: case studies from Scotland, Yorkshire and Wessex
McLaren, Dawn Patricia
MetadataShow full item record
This thesis discusses the evidence for funerary practices afforded to children in the Earlier Bronze Age in Britain (circa 2500BC to 1400BC) focussing on three key case study areas: Scotland, Yorkshire and Wessex. A long-view of the Earlier Bronze Age has been adopted to enable broad patterns to be determined and discussed. The wider aim is to offer a fuller understanding of the perception and importance of children within Earlier Bronze Age society. Following the theoretical and methodological framework adopted throughout the study the evidence for the mortuary treatment of children and the grave furnishings provided for them is discussed with particular reference to how children’s graves compare to those of adults in the same chronological period. To accompany this study, a comprehensive catalogue of previously recorded children’s burials both by inhumation and after cremation has been compiled by the writer for the three case study areas. This includes data both from antiquarian sources and from modern excavation reports detailing aspects of grave location, positioning of the body and associated material culture in the form of grave goods. The corpus is then reviewed and discussed for each of the case study areas. The aim of each study is to analyse the significance of aspects of funerary practice and the role of grave goods in association with children of fifteen years of age or younger within regional burial traditions. This study indicates that children are under-represented in the burial record and suggests that formal burial was not open to all immature individuals. In each of the case study areas funerary rites afforded to children are generally consistent with those of adults but this study demonstrates that the inclusion of certain objects found in adult graves (such as bronze knife-daggers) were not considered appropriate for inclusion in the grave of a child. A number of exceptional and highly-furnished graves are present which indicate that it was possible for children to be perceived as significant members of Earlier Bronze Age society during life and in the Otherworld.