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Delivering Bodies unto Waters: A Late Bronze Age Mid-Stream Midden Settlement and Iron Age Ritual Complex in the Fens

  • Christopher Evans (a1)
Abstract

This paper describes a Late Bronze Age midden settlement and a later Iron Age ritual complex on Godwin Ridge, a sand ridge that formerly lay mid-stream within the lower reaches of the River Great Ouse, in the Cambridgeshire fens. Numerous ritual deposits and significant quantities of human remains were recovered; some of the latter show signs of having been modified or dismembered. The ritual focus of the ridge was a riverside platform; associated with this was an important assemblage of wetland bird bone. The paper explores the implications of these practices and compares the finds to those from neighbouring and regional later prehistoric settlements, including those with major bird bone assemblages. The ridge-end's findings clearly resonate with human remains retrieved from other watery contexts, such as those associated with the River Thames. The evidence suggests that Godwin Ridge was, during the later Iron Age, a major site for mortuary rites involving riverine interment.

Cet article décrit un habitat lié à un dépotoir de la fin de l’âge du bronze ainsi qu'un complexe rituel plus récent de l’âge du fer situé sur le Godwin Ridge, un banc de sable autrefois situé au milieu du cours inférieur de la rivière Great Ouse, dans les Fens (basses terres) du Cambridgeshire. De nombreux dépôts rituels et une quantité importante de vestiges humains ont été découverts. Ces derniers paraissent dans certains cas avoir été modifiés ou démembrés. Le lieu des rituels se composait d'une plate-forme installée au bord de la rivière, à laquelle est associé un important assemblage d'ossements d'oiseaux de marais. Cet article étudie les implications de ces pratiques et compare les vestiges découverts avec ceux d'habitats préhistoriques plus récents, voisins et régionaux, associés ou non avec des assemblages importants d'ossements d'oiseaux. Les vestiges provenant du bout du banc concordent clairement avec les vestiges humains exhumés dans d'autres contextes aquatiques, comme ceux associés à la Tamise. Tout laisse à penser qu’à la fin de l’âge du fer, Le Godwin Ridge était un site important pour l'exécution de rites mortuaires liés à l'inhumation en rivière.

Diese Abhandlung beschreibt eine spätbronzezeitliche Siedlung mit Müllgrube und einen späteisenzeitlichen Kultbezirk auf Godwin Ridge, einer Sandbank, die ehemals inmitten des Unterlaufs des Great Ouse Flusses in den Cambridgeshire Fens lag. Zahlreiche Kultobjekte und beträchtliche Mengen menschlicher Überreste konnten geborgen werden, wobei einige der menschlichen Überreste Anzeichen von Veränderungen oder Zerstückelung aufweisen. Der Kultbezirk auf der Sandbank befand sich auf einer Uferplattform; verbunden damit waren größere Anhäufungen von Marschvögelngebeinen. Die Abhandlung erforscht die Implikationen dieser Praktiken und vergleicht die Funde mit denen benachbarter und regionaler späterer vorgeschichtlicher Siedlungen, einschließlich solcher mit größeren Anhäufungen von Vogelgebeinen. Die Funde am Rand der Sandbank stehen ganz offensichtlich im Einklang mit menschlichen Überresten, die an anderen am Wasser gelegenen Fundorten, wie z.B. jenen an der Themse, geborgen wurden. Die Nachweise lassen darauf schließen, dass Godwin Ridge in der späteren Eisenzeit ein bedeutender Ort für Bestattungsriten war, wozu auch Flussbestattungen gehörten.

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References
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