The architecture and context of mortuary practices in the Neolithic period in north Wales
This thesis examines the megalithic chambers and associated buildings of the Neolithic period in north Wales. It is proposed that these buildings have been interpreted incorrectly through a reductionist paradigm which sees all formallydeposited human remains as funerary. The material in the study area is introduced, and placed into a historical context in terms of the history of archaeology in Wales, and a geographical context in terms of other NeolithiG evidence in the area. Three main explanatory discourses are identified which are considered to have determined a flawed interpretation: our own western understandings of and approaches to death; the understanding of the Neolithic period as an agricultural society based on kinship alliance and therefore involving an over-riding concern with notions of ancestry manifested through corpse treatment strategies; and the continued quest to identify the so-called 'origins' of megalithic chambers in earlier Neolithic societies outside of Britain. Having examined and critiqued these discourses in some detail, the thesis returns to a detailed consideration of material in the study area, examining the depositional acts undertaken at a number of excavated sites. This material is examined in terms of the differences apparent within it. In the concluding chapter, this analysis is continued and an attempt is made to postulate a number of possible meanings for megalithic chambers. It is argued that, when considered as a single class of monument, such buildings are not understandable in any way which may approach the diversity of meanings which they held during the Neolithic period.