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Stonehenge and Middle to Late Neolithic Cremation Rites in Mainland Britain (c.3500-2500 BC)

Christina Willis
Publication Year:
376 pages. Illustrated throughout in colour and black and white. 88 tables and 233 figures.
BAR number:


Neolithic Britain is characterised by its wide diversity in funerary and mortuary rites. However, a shift c.3500BC led to a rise in cremation burials associated with circular monuments and by c.3000BC, cremation was the dominant funerary rite. This book provides a comprehensive re-analysis of 628 cremation deposits from 84 sites across mainland Britain, including those from Stonehenge. It offers new insights and interpretations relating to a shift in social organisation and belief structures, and uses up-to-date methodology to discuss osteological, archaeological and chronological data. Together, this research suggests that cremation was specifically selected for certain members of society, and it also raises new questions about mobility and the role women played within the prehistoric landscape.

Christina Willis is an expert osteoarchaeologist specialising in the analysis of cremated human remains. Her PhD focused on cremation burials from Neolithic Britain after her passion for prehistory was sparked during an excavation at Stonehenge. She has lectured at various universities and is currently pursuing further research opportunities

‘We have known about Middle-Late Neolithic cremation cemeteries for some time, but only in a very fragmented way. This study brings together all of the current evidence in one very important synthesis. It approaches the data in a modern way, and also revisits some crucial old site archives in order to elucidate their archaeology in contemporary way. For all of these reasons, it represents a genuinely significant contribution to Neolithic studies.’ Professor Duncan Garrow, University of Reading

‘It opens new avenues for a better understanding of cremation as a funerary ritual in Neolithic Europe.’ Dr Christophe Snoeck, Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Introduction (B668_Willis_9781407358345_-_introduction.pdf, 513 Kb) [Download]

Table of Contents (B668_Willis_9781407358345_-_ToC.pdf, 277 Kb) [Download]