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Visualising the Beaker Burial

961 Beaker reconstructions by Karen Nichols

The two artist’s reconstructions are an impression of how the person may have looked during their life, and when placed in the grave. We know that the skeleton was that of an adult aged 35 or over and that they were placed in a crouched position, resting on their right side, facing east with their head towards the south – a rite that tends to be reserved for females at this time. Although the skull could be lifted in a soil block the bone was too degraded to attempt any form of accurate facial reconstruction – the face is that of the female artist! 

We have made the decision that the beads, along with an absence of more typical male grave goods, indicate a probable female burial. However, this assumption could be wrong as a number of beads have been found with men. This issue is further complicated as such items could represent gender and/or could be gifts from female mourners.  

962 Karen working on the reconstructions

Beads of gold and lignite found near the neck possibly belong to a single necklace. The Beaker pot was near the hips and, although we cannot be certain, it could have been placed in or near the hands. Other lignite beads were found in this area and could, as we have suggested, come from a bracelet. The large amber beads have a different distribution to the lignite and gold, and here we have made the suggestion that they could have been used as buttons or fasteners for a garment such as a cloak. Beads and buttons have interchangeable functions as both can be sown on to clothing. Unfortunately, organic textile rarely survives and out artist’s impression serves to remind us what could be missing from the archaeological record. We know that they had textile at this time from impressions left in pottery found on other archaeological sites. Archaeologists have speculated that the geometric motifs impressed into Beaker pottery with bone combs and twisted cord could be inspired by patterns used in textile. On this basis we have repeated the pot’s herringbone motif within the weave of the fabric.  
 
For more information about our work at Kingsmead Horton click here.
 
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