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This article presents a summary and interpretation of burial practices in Scotland in AD 400-650, during the transition from the Iron Age to the early medieval period. Due to the dearth of primary historical sources from this period relating to Britain north of Hadrian’s Wall, the numerous burials provide the main evidence pertaining to the knock-on effects of the collapse of the Roman province of Britannia, and the era which saw the formation of Pictish, British, Scottish and Christian identities that would define the region for the remainder of the early medieval period. Yet previous work has generally addressed these sites as evidence for a single aspect of this transition: the conversion to Christianity. This paper summarises the relevant results of the author’s doctoral research, which involved the creation of a database of all burials from Scotland covering the first millennium AD. With a body of nearly 300 individual radiocarbon dates, the Scottish evidence allows theoretical advances into the archaeology of death and burial to be combined with an unprecedented level of chronological precision. This has the potential to influence the discourse on the sub-Roman period in the British Isles, framing new questions about the function of death and commemoration in the longer processes of conversion, the establishment of new social identities, and the formation of ethnic kingdoms.
|Keywords:||Scotland, burial, early Christianity, early medieval|
|Glasgow Author(s):||Maldonado, Dr Adrian|
|Subjects:||C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology|
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D111 Medieval History
|College/School:||College of Arts > School of Humanities > Archaeology|
|Journal Name:||Medieval Archaeology|