Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

Social arrangements: kinship, descent and affinity in the mortuary architecture of Early Neolithic Britain and Ireland

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Chris Fowler



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


This article re-assesses the social significance of Early Neolithic chambered tombs. It critically evaluates inferences about social organization drawn from tomb architecture and interpretations of kinship based on aDNA analyses of human remains from tombs. Adopting the perspective that kinship is a multi-faceted and ongoing field of practice, it argues that the arrangement of tomb chambers was related to the negotiation of Early Neolithic kinship. Drawing together inferences about biological relatedness from aDNA analyses with interpretations of chamber arrangements, it suggests that variation in the architectural arrangements and sequential modification of chambered tombs relates to different ways of negotiating aspects of kinship, particularly descent and affinity. It presents interpretations of how kinship was negotiated at Early Neolithic tombs in different regions of Britain and Ireland and concludes that it is increasingly possible to gauge pattern and diversity in Neolithic negotiations of kinship, descent and affinity by combining different strands of evidence, including architectural arrangement.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Fowler C

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Archaeological Dialogues

Year: 2022

Volume: 29

Issue: 1

Pages: 67-88

Print publication date: 01/06/2022

Online publication date: 10/01/2022

Acceptance date: 02/06/2021

Date deposited: 19/05/2022

ISSN (print): 1380-2038

ISSN (electronic): 1478-2294

Publisher: Cambridge University Press


DOI: 10.1017/S1380203821000210


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric