Contextual Archaeology of Burial Practice

Case studies from Roman Britain

John Pearce


This study explores the insights into provincial Roman societies that can be gained from the archaeological evidence for burial practice, focused on Britain, drawing on wider work in the archaeology of death. It evaluates the distribution of burial evidence and the factors that condition it, including, it is argued, archaeologically invisible burial continuing from the Iron Age.It reviews the archaeological evidence for cremation rituals and explores how social status was expressed through burial, primarily in case studies from south-east England. Funerary ritual was a dynamic arena for asserting social status throughout the Roman period, taking forms that can be read as both ‘traditional’ and ‘Roman’. The setting of burial is assessed to establish spatial relationshAs between living and dead in town and country and the distribution of funerary display across the landscape.