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Ancient Scots getting prepared for death

Ancient Scots prepared for death ahead of time


Archaeologists have found evidence that suggests ancient people in southwest Scotland prepared for their deaths ahead of time by building stone burial cists.

An investigation started in April last year after three cists were accidently found during ploughing at Blaibury Farm in Dumfries and Galloway.  The cists were within close proximity of each other, one containing the remains of a child and the other two empty.  An analysis of the subsoil surrounding the cists demonstrated that two empty cists had never been used, suggesting they were constructing in anticipation of use.

Warren Bailie, who led the archaeological team said, “Perhaps this was a conscious attempt by a group or family related to the young individual who was buried here, to set aside graves in the immediate vicinity for future use.

The cists may have been constructed and set aside for a family, similar to modern day cemetery burial plots.

An analysis of the child’s remains date indicated that he or she lived in the Bronze Age and had experienced at least two episodes of malnutrition in its short life. Mr Bailie said: “The stress indicators on the skeletal remains may be indicative of a wider problem for the community at that time, perhaps a food shortage or onset of disease and this is a possible explanation which may have prompted the preparatory construction of the surplus cists. This implies that the community understood and planned an individual’s burial well in advance of that person’s death.”

By April Holloway

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April Holloway is a Co-Owner, Editor and Writer of Ancient Origins. For privacy reasons, she has previously written on Ancient Origins under the pen name April Holloway, but is now choosing to use her real name, Joanna Gillan.

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