Ways of Death: Cremation and belief in first millennium AD Ireland

Patrick Gleeson, Rowan McLaughlin

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Archaeological studies of belief, ideology and commemorative strategies in Ireland, and elsewhere in Europe, neglect the continuation of cremation far beyond the supposed fifth-century AD threshold for the shift to inhumation under the influence of Christianity. A database of radiocarbon dates from first-millennium AD Ireland permits the identification of new patterns in early medieval (AD 400–1100) mortuary practices, including a new phase of cremation. The authors discuss archaeological and historical implications to demonstrate how data-driven approaches can enhance and challenge established metanarratives. They also highlight serious methodological and interpretative issues that these data pose for current narrative frameworks, and their influence on post-excavation strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
Early online date27 Jan 2021
Publication statusEarly online date - 27 Jan 2021


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