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 directed by Duncan Garrow, Melanie Giles and Neil Wilkin, representing a research collaboration between the University of Reading, the University of Manchester and the British Museum. We will also be working closely with several Historic Environment Records across England, Scotland and Wales.
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.