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25 September 2004
Bronze Age funeral experiment staged in Scotland

The Archaeolink prehistory park at Oyne (Scotland) recreated a Bronze Age funeral, cremating the body of a pig in a bizarre but significant Scottish Archaeology Month experiment.
     Archaeolink staff  teamed up with colleagues from the National Museums of Scotland to stage the investigation. The event saw the experts create an ancient cremation pyre, then set it ablaze to find the effect of heat on objects from clothing and jewellery to offerings. "This is very much a scientific experiment," said centre manager Lynn Millar. She said a pig carcase had taken the place of an ancient costumed body so as to accurately replicate a Bronze Age pyre.
     The Archaeolink investigation was inspired by the discovery at Findhorn in 1988 of the 3,800-year-old Bronze Age burial of a woman and baby. Archaeologists were intrigued to find the woman had been wearing a necklace of precious faience beads. While some of the beads, made from a glass-like material, were thoroughly charred or destroyed, others survived undamaged despite the fierce, furnace-type temperatures.
     The experiment will help establish how damage may be related to the positioning of items in a pyre. A replica faience necklace has been created at Oxford University to the original design, and will be placed around the shrouded pig put inside the pyre.

Source: The Press and Journal (23 September 2004)

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