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Grave matters: harnessing the enduring power of prehistoric grave goods

A College of Humanities seminar
Date13 October 2022
Time12:30 to 14:00
PlaceLaver Building LT3

Dr Anwen Cooper - Oxford Archaeology


Grave goods – the objects interred with inhumation and cremation burials – provide some of the most eye-catching insights into personal identity and the subtleties of prehistoric lives. They glint from our museum shelves, adorn the covers of books and entice us to explore their stories. Although they derive from the ancient past, they also prompt us to think about death and burial in our own lives. Grave goods are powerful and enduring objects.


This talk presents recently published work from the AHRC Prehistoric Grave Goods project. One key project finding was the extent to which, rather than being neatly defined, grave goods are better understood in relation to spectrums of depositional practice – from hoards, to single finds, to settlement deposits. Alongside spectacular objects, like the Early Bronze Age gold cape from Mold, Flintshire which featured in the recent World of Stonehenge exhibition at the British Museum, the project brought to the fore how humbler objects – pots, pebbles, animal bones and so on – were equally meaningful, if often overlooked, elements of prehistoric burial practices. I will also present a set of initiatives developed over the last 18 months with colleagues at Historic Environment Scotland and National Museums Scotland, aimed at opening up new opportunities for community groups and the general public to get involved in the pleasures of grave goods research and to build a stronger digital basis for future interpretations.

Archaeology_Research_Seminar___Anwen_Cooper_13_10_22.pdfResearch Seminar Flyer (163K)

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