Bronze age funerary monuments in England and Wales
Petersen, Fredric Falck
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The characteristics of S British (England and Wales) Beaker/Bronze Age burial monuments are examined, using data drawn from a sample of 411 sites excavated since 1920. These data are critically summarized on a site by site basis in Volume 2. A review of the history of barrow digging in Britain (Chapter 2) traces the origin of certain misconceptions which have dominated thinking about Bronze Age burials up to the present day, notably the assumption that the typical Bronze Age barrow was intended by its builders to commemorate the remains of a single distinguished personage buried at the centre. Barrow typology is reviewed in Chapter 17 and doubt cast on the status of the bell barrow as a legitimate typological category. In Chapters 3-16, which review the burial practices of each of the regions of S Britain, proof is provided for the proposition that most Bronze Age barrows marked cemeteries belonging to kinship or residence groups, the main lines of evidence pursued being the age and sex composition of burials and the relationship between age/sex class and variables such as sequential position and position on plan, rite, and the presence or absence of grave goods. Attention is also paid in these chapters to the identification of inter-regional differences and similarities in burial practice and in the typological forms of the barrows and other monuments. Some of the topics mentioned are discussed in a more general way in Chapter 18.