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The Late Bronze Age−Middle Iron Age Mortuary Landscape at Cliffs End

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Featured in the most recent edition of Current Archaeology, the extraordinary mortuary deposits revealed at Cliffs End Farm represent an internationally important assemblage of unusual size (for its date) and complexity. An interactive mosaic of mortuary rites are indicated, many associated with the theme of transformation, including; excarnation, manipulation, exposure and curation, charring and mixing with midden; human and animal sacrifice. 
 
Thanks to extensive radiocarbon and strontium/oxygen isotope analysis, a broad geographic and temporal range has been demonstrated. The location – overlooking Pegwell Bay − formed a ritual hub for peoples from northern and southern Europe, inter-acting and maintaining links with the local population across centuries from the Late Bronze Age (9− 11th century) to the Middle Iron Age (3rd−4th century). 
 
A further highlight of the site’s significance is illustrated by the fact that the number of Late Bronze Age individuals identified represents one-third of the total for the period known from Kent – another major difference being that most others of this date were cremated. 
 
But why here? Situated on a geographically significant sea-board boundary, projecting into the Channel, did Cliffs End represent a ‘triangulation point’ between this and distant but similarly located coastal communities with which it shared economic interests in which the roles of ritual and ‘politics’ remained firmly intertwined?
 
If you are interested in hearing more about Cliffs End and other sites in Kent why not come to the Celebrating Prehistoric Kent conference on 12 September at Greenwich University Medway Campus.
 
By Jacqueline McKinley, Senior Osteoarchaeologist
 
 
 
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