Cost: Free

Grave goods: objects and death in later British prehistory

Ordinary Meeting of Fellows (Fellows and Guests Only)

Grave goods: objects and death in later British prehistory

Lecture by Dr Duncan Garrow and Dr Melanie Giles FSA

This lecture will focus on the results of the Grave Goods project thus far. The Grave Goods project focuses on material culture in graves and other formal mortuary contexts in Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age Britain, c. 4000 BC to AD 43. The project – whose full title is ‘Grave goods: objects and death in later prehistoric Britain’ – is a research collaboration between Duncan Garrow (University of Reading), Melanie Giles (University of Manchester) and Neil Wilkin (British Museum). Britain is internationally renowned for the high quality and exquisite crafting of its later prehistoric grave goods. Objects from burials have long been central to how archaeologists have interpreted society at that time. Interred with both inhumations and cremations, they provide some of the most durable and well-preserved insights into personal identity and the prehistoric life-course, yet they also speak of the care shown to the dead by the living, and of people’s relationships with ‘things’. Objects matter.

This project seeks to transform current understandings of mortuary practice and material culture in later prehistoric Britain.The Grave Goods project’s primary aim is to undertake the first long-term, large-scale investigation into grave goods during the Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age. Our analysis will enable a new level of understanding of mortuary material culture over this major period of technological innovation and social transformation. We will develop and apply a suite of interpretive approaches leading to a novel, theoretically-informed narrative concerning the significance of objects in people’s lives and deaths in later prehistoric Britain.