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20 January 2017
Insights into the rituals of the Beaker people in Scotland

There have been some recent interesting developments in the understanding of the lives of the Beaker people in the UK. Beaker people, so called from the distinctive fine pottery which they made, are first believed to have spread to the UK from Southern and Central Europe around 2,500 BCE. Now a combined team from Aberdeen University and the British Museum has been carrying out a detailed study of Beaker graves from a series of settlements in North East Scotland, stretching from Aberdeen to Inverness.
     They have noticed some specific rituals associated with the burials, in terms of position and orientation of the bodies, with apposing orientations depending on where the deceased was male or female. They also discovered that the already distinctive pottery in the graves had a local refinement found nowhere else. They were all decorated with a fine white powder which, on analysis, was found to be made from cremated bones, although it was not possible to determine whether they were from either animals or humans.
     The close attention they paid to the orientation of the bodies in the graves correlated with the particular type of stone circles that they built, examples of which have only been found in this area of Scotland and South west Ireland. The main feature of these circles is a centrally located recumbent large stone, within the circle, thought to be associated with the moon, as it is aligned with the arc of the southern moon. Does this explain the orientation of the burials, as part of a lunar ritual?
     The team also discovered, by analysing stable isotopes from the skeletons, that the population was fairly static in terms of spread or movement, not venturing far from the original settlements and strangely, considering the proximity to the coast, their diet contained very little sea food.

Edited from Mail Online (4 January 2017)

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