The exotic and impressive grave goods from burials of the `Wessex Culture' in Early Bronze Age Britain are well known and have inspired influential social and economic hypotheses, invoking the former existence of chiefs, warriors and merchants and high-ranking pastoralists. Alternative theories have sought to explain how display of such objects was related to religious and ritual activity rather than to economic status, and that groups of artefacts found in certain graves may have belonged to religious specialists. This volume is the result of a major research project that aimed to investigate Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age grave goods in relation to their possible use as special dress accessories or as equipment employed within ritual activities and ceremonies. Many items of adornment can be shown to have formed elements of elaborate costumes, probably worn by individuals, both male and female, who held important ritual roles within society. Furthermore, the analysis has shown that various categories of object long interpreted as mundane types of tool were in fact items of bodily adornment or implements used in ritual contexts, or in the special embellishment of the human body.
Although never intended to form a complete catalogue of all the relevant artefacts from England the volume provides an extensive, and intensively illustrated, overview of a large proportion of the grave goods from English burial sites.
John Hunter is Emeritus Professor of Archaeology at the University of Birmingham and a renowned expert in forensic archaeology. Ann Woodward is a retired Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham. She specialises in Bronze Age pottery and barrows; her publications include An Examination of Prehistoric Stone Bracers, and Prehistoric Britain: The Ceramic Basis.
Chapter 1. Introduction Chapter 2. Methodology Chapter 3. Items of equipment I: daggers, pommels and belt fittings (with contributions by Stuart Needham, Peter Bray and Sonia O'Connor) Chapter 4. Items of equipment II: stone, bone, copper alloy and miscellaneous objects (with a contribution from Stuart Needham) Chapter 5. Items of personal adornment I: jet and jet-like materials, amber, bone and copper alloy (with contributions from Alison Sheridan and Stuart Needham) Chapter 6. Items of personal adornment II: gold and the regalia from bush barrow (by Stuart Needham, John Hunter and Ann Woodward) Chapter 7. Items of personal adornment III: disc bead and spacer plate necklaces (by Alison Sheridan, John Hunter and Ann Woodward) Chapter 8. Items of personal adornment IV: composite necklaces (with contributions by Alison Sheridan) Chapter 9. Chronology Chapter 10. Object life stories (with David Bukach) Chapter 11. Object function (with David Bukach) Chapter 12. Regional variation Chapter 13. Conclusions Bibliography