|Cremated human bone deposit. Image: Oxford Archaeology|
Record-changing discovery about Mesolithic burial practices revealed by Oxford Archaeology
A deposit containing cremated human bone, found during excavations by Oxford Archaeology in advance of a new pipeline at Langford, Essex, has been dated to the Mesolithic period. This is the first cremated human bone from this period, and the earliest yet identified in Britain.
Burnt material, including 118g of cremated bone, was placed into a pit with a diameter of about a metre, and then backfilled with soil. Three radiocarbon dates, two from bone fragments and one from charcoal, have confirmed a date of 5,600BC for the deposit. Dr Louise Loe, head of burials at Oxford Archaeology, analysed the bone and determined that it represents the remains of at least one adult, although the total weight of bone is only about 7% of what would be expected from a complete individual. This, together with the large amount of charcoal present, suggests that the material represents a deposit of some of the remains from a pyre, and not all of the cremated bone from it. [...] oxfordarchaeology.com/