• Cremation and the Use of Fire in Mesolithic Mortuary Practices in North-West Europe

      Gray Jones, Amy; University of Chester (Oxford University Press, 2017-04-27)
      Cremation is not widely recognized as a form of mortuary treatment amongst the hunter-gatherer communities of Mesolithic north-west Europe (broadly defined as c.9300 cal. BC to c.4000 cal. BC). However, discoveries within the last two decades have increased the evidence for the practice of cremation (as well as other forms of treatment, such as secondary burial) amongst the hunter-gatherers of the Mesolithic, both in terms of the geographic distribution of the practice and its temporal spread throughout the period. Although rare in comparison to inhumation, cremation can now be seen to have been practiced throughout both the early and late Mesolithic and, whilst evidence is currently sparse within the modern areas of Germany and the British Isles, examples are known across Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Belgium, northern France, and the Republic of Ireland. The aim of this chapter is not to present a comprehensive catalogue of cremations in the Mesolithic, but rather to draw on a number of case studies to provide an overview of cremation practices, and the variety of post-cremation treatment of cremated remains, and to place this within the context of other forms of Mesolithic mortuary practice.