Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

Mortuary practices and bodily representations in north-west Europe

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Chris Fowler


Full text for this publication is not currently held within this repository. Alternative links are provided below where available.


This chapter explores patterns and variations in how Neolithic bodies were presented and represented in Britain, Ireland and northern France, and how they changed through time. The evidence for mortuary practices and figurative art are reviewed, with especial attention to the concept of bodily integrity. A wide range of bodily transformations following death are discussed including cremation, single and collective burial, practices that left the dead intact in graves, and acts that successively ‘processed’ the remains of the dead. Also highlighted is the wide range of locales used for formalized human burial, including cemeteries, chambered tombs, unchambered long mounds, causewayed enclosures, henge monuments, rock-cut tombs, caves, and flint mines. The authors examine relationships between mortuary practices and architecture, and between bodily transformation and personal identity, before exploring the more restricted evidence for figurative representation of bodies and body parts in wood, bone, chalk, flint and stone. Ideas about death, the dead and ancestry are considered, and the use of objects, places, and non-human bodies as metaphors through which human bodies were conceptualized. The authors conclude that the interplay between ‘whole’ and ‘partial’ bodies was important in negotiating different identities, experiences and interactions.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Fowler C, Scarre C

Editor(s): Fowler, C; Harding, J; Hofmann, D

Publication type: Book Chapter

Publication status: Published

Book Title: The Oxford Handbook of Neolithic Europe

Year: 2015

Pages: 1023-1047

Print publication date: 26/03/2015

Publisher: Oxford University Press


DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199545841.013.054

Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9780199545841