Early Bronze Age artefacts

Recently I’ve created a new twitter profile (already had one for my crafty self) which is at https://twitter.com/SamWalshOsteo

I’ve been thinking of doing a post on objects for a while and had a request on twitter for some stuff on pottery.  So here’s some info on some of the artefacts I’ve come across during my PhD.  Please bear in mind I am not an object person….

First things first, pottery

For those of you who are unfamiliar with archaeology or Early Bronze Age Britain, common forms of pottery which are associated with burials in the Early Bronze Age include beaker pottery, collared urns, food vessels and accessory (mini) vessels.

The pottery and cremated remains from Green Low, Derbyshire.  Photo taken in Buxton Museum.

The pottery and cremated remains from Green Low, Derbyshire. Photo taken in Buxton Museum.

Within my research pottery was most often associated with cremated remains.  One of the sites I’ve been looking at is a cairn called Whitelow, Lancashire.  This site only had cremation burials, several of which were associated with pots (see photo below).

Some of the pottery from Whitelow cairn, Lancashire.  Including Collared Urns and an Accessory Vessel.  Thanks to Bury Art Gallery and Museum.

Some of the pottery from Whitelow cairn, Lancashire. Including Collared Urns and an Accessory Vessel. Thanks to Bury Art Gallery and Museum.

Something I have come across when analysing cremations is bone artefacts, these have mostly been bone pins but I also found a carved bone bead from Gallowsclough, Cheshire.

I was quite interested in how these were made so I had a look at them under a microscope and also using SEM (Scanning Electron Microscopy).  I have only posted images of the microscope photos though as I seem to have mislaid the SEM images!  I’ll add them to this post at a later date if I find them.

Carved bone bead from Gallowsclough Hill, Cheshire.

Carved bone bead from Gallowsclough Hill, Cheshire.

Bone pin from Holmrook, Cumbria.  Striations result from being through the cremation pyre.

Bone pin from Holmrook, Cumbria. Striations result from being through the cremation pyre.

As I’ve found these objects with cremated remains and they had been cremated with the human remains it’s not possible to say how these artefacts were worn.  However, when associated with inhumation burials, bone pins are usually either found at the chest (used to fasten clothing) or at the back of the head (hair/shroud fastening).  Beads are usually worn as part of necklaces or bracelets.

Another artefact which was associated with a couple of burials at Whitelow cairn was clay studs.  These are presumed to have either been worn as an ear piercing or used as a fastening for clothes.

Clay stud found with the  cremated remains of an adult female at Whitelow Cairn, Lancashire.  Thanks to Bury Museum and Art Gallery for this image.

Clay stud found with the cremated remains of an adult female at Whitelow Cairn, Lancashire. Thanks to Bury Museum and Art Gallery for this image.

Something which is often discussed in relation to Early Bronze Age burials are the bronze artefacts from which the Bronze Age is named.  Bronze artefacts were not very common in my study area, but a couple of adult male burials were associated with bronze daggers.

Bronze dagger from Stoop Barrow, Derbyshire.  Photo taken in Buxton Museum.

Bronze dagger from Stoop Barrow, Derbyshire. Photo taken in Buxton Museum.

Whilst artefacts were not a central part of my PhD research, I did look at whether there was any correlations between artefact types and age and sex groups.  In the past it has been thought from burial position and artefacts that adult males were higher in status.  My study demonstrates that adult females (cremated or inhumed) were more commonly associated with objects than adult males.

Most artefacts were found with the burials of men and women and all age groups, there were some which were more specific to males and females.  These included Bronze awls, which were almost always buried with adult women; and also bronze daggers and bronze axes were always associated with adult men.  The burials of women within the study were also more likely to be associated with multiple objects in comparison to those of the men.

I hope this is interesting for anyone reading and especially those of you who prefer artefacts to skeletons.

Thats all for now.

Sam

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