The Grave Goods project ran from 2016-2021. It focused on material culture in graves and other formal mortuary contexts in Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age Britain, c. 4000 BC to AD 50. The project – whose full title was ‘Grave goods: objects and death in later prehistoric Britain’ – was a research collaboration between Duncan Garrow (University of Reading), Melanie Giles (University of Manchester) and Neil Wilkin (British Museum). We also worked closely with Historic Environment Record officers in England, Scotland and Wales.
Britain is internationally renowned for the high quality and exquisite crafting of its later prehistoric grave goods. Objects from burials have long been central to how archaeologists have interpreted society at that time. Interred with both inhumations and cremations, they provide some of the most durable and well-preserved insights into personal identity and the prehistoric life-course, yet they also speak of the care shown to the dead by the living, and of people’s relationships with ‘things’. Objects matter. This project sought to transform understandings of mortuary practice and material culture in later prehistoric Britain.