Aspects of ceremonial burial in the Bronze Age of south-west Britain
The aim of this study is to investigate the ways in which actions involving the construction of funerary mounds facilitated the continuity of Beaker and Bronze Age society in South-West Britain by creating and renewing meaningful traditions of knowledge. Following a brief introduction (Chapter 1) which reviews the character and contents of the study, the second chapter considers some theoretical issues arising from the practice of interpretative archaeology, and concludes with a discussion of death rituals and their archaeological appropriation. Chapter 3 is a critical review of the modem tradition of barrow study, and proposes an alternative perspective pursued in later chapters. Chapter 4 involves an examination of the environmental and social context surrounding later third and second millennium burial practices in the South-West in terms of its implications for community regionalization, social structure, and funerary function. Chapter 5 contains an overview of the funerary sites, a discussion of the analysis employed in their examination, and a contextual history of Bronze Age funerary practices, integrating the results into a general view of social and ritual development. Chapter 6 elaborates upon Beaker/Bronze Age traditions of knowledge by detailing the form and content of the meaningful taxonomies which structured perception, and how such taxonomies were forwarded and reproduced through tomb construction and related ritual actions. The chapter concludes by considering the results of the analysis against the current approaches to the subject. The picture of Bronze Age ceremonial burial which emerges differs from that produced by traditional and current perspectives, in that local contingent circumstances and cosmological constructs are shown to have been of equal importance to both power relations and large scale economic structures in influencing site location, monument appearance, material culture use, and funerary action. Appendices and tables summarise individual site histories and supporting data.