Cremation Practices and the Creation of Monument Complexes: The Neolithic Cremation Cemetery at Forteviot, Strathearn, Perth & Kinross, Scotland, and its comparanda

Gordon Noble*, Kenneth Brophy, Derek Hamilton, Stephany Leach, Alison Sheridan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Around the beginning of the 3rd millennium cal bc a cremation cemetery was established at Forteviot, central Scotland. This place went on to become one of the largest monument complexes identified in Mainland Scotland, with the construction of a palisaded enclosure, timber structures, and a series of henge monuments and other enclosures. The cemetery was established between 3080 and 2900 cal bc, probably in the 30th century cal bc, which is contemporary with the cremation cemetery at Stonehenge. Nine discrete deposits of cremated bone, representing the remains of at least 18 people, were identified. In most instances they were placed within cut features and, in one case, a series of cremation deposits was associated with a broken standing stone. This paper includes the first detailed assessment of the cremated remains at Forteviot and the features associated with the cemetery, and explores how the establishment of this cemetery may have been both a catalyst and inspiration for the elaborate monument building and prolonged acts of remembrance that occurred at this location over a period of almost 1000 years. The paper also outlines the parallels for Forteviot across Britain and, for the first time, draws together the dating evidence (including Bayesian modelling) for this major category of evidence for considering the nature of late 4th/early 3rd millennium cal bc society. The results and discussion have wide implications and resonances for contemplating the establishment and evolution of monument complexes in prehistoric Britain and beyond.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-245
Number of pages33
JournalProceedings of the Prehistoric Society
Early online date4 Oct 2017
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017



  • bone ‘skewer’ pins
  • chronology
  • cremation cemetery
  • Forteviot
  • Grooved Ware complex
  • monumentality
  • Neolithic
  • radiocarbon dating

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology

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