A Mass Grave

Most graves that date to the early in the Bronze Age (or the Beaker period) in southern England usually contain one, sometimes two, skeletons.
 
The Boscombe Down grave was different. A normal sized grave contained the remains of seven individuals. Three adult males, a teenage male and three children. The burial rite was unusual.
 
A man who had died between the ages of about 30-45 had been buried on his left side with his legs tucked up and with head to the north. His left thighbone had been broken so badly that when his leg healed it may have been shorter. But he survived, limping along. Buried close to his head were the remains of the three children.
 
One child, aged between about 2-4, had been cremated but there was barely a handful of their bones in the grave. This was the only cremation burial. Little survived of the remains of a child aged between about 5-6, perhaps because this inhumation burial had been disturbed. As the burial of the third child, aged between about 6-7, lay at a higher level, it would seem to have been inserted into the grave at a later date.
 
In contrast the remains of the teenager and the two men had clearly been rearranged. The teenager was probably a male and died between the ages of about 15-18. The two men had died between the ages of about 25-30.
 
Their remains had been placed around the corpse of the 30-40 year old. Some bones had been placed below his body, others on top, with similar bones being grouped together. The bones were mainly robust long bones, and parts of skulls. There were few smaller bones. The skulls were placed towards the feet of the articulated burial.
 
The surfaces of the loose bones were more worn. It seems likely that this was not their first resting place. The skulls of the men and the teenager were very similar in shape. All of them had distinctive small bones (called Wormian bones) that had grown between the individual parts of the skull. It seems highly likely that the males were all related.
 
This is a typical Stone Age rite of collective burial. But this collective burial was in a single grave, something typical of the metal ages.