Ritual in Early Bronze Age Grave Goods: Current Archaeology Award 2017 Nominee

We are delighted to announce that Ritual in early Bronze Age Grave Goods: An Examination of Ritual and Dress Equipment from Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age Graves in England by John Hunter and Ann Woodward, published by Oxbow Books, has been nominated in the ‘Book of the Year’ category in the 2017 Current Archaeology Awards!

Take a look below to read about the book, see what people think of it, and details on how to cast your vote.

9781782976943Ritual in Early Bronze Age Grave Goods: An examination of ritual and dress equipment from Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age graves in England
By John Hunter and Ann Woodward

Oxbow Books | 2015 | Language: English | Fully colour illustrated, includes CD

The exotic and impressive grave goods from burials of the ‘Wessex Culture’ in Early Bronze Age Britain are well known and have inspired influential social and economic hypotheses, invoking the former existence of chiefs, warriors and merchants and high-ranking pastoralists. Alternative theories have sought to explain how display of such objects was related to religious and ritual activity rather than to economic status, and that groups of artefacts found in certain graves may have belonged to religious specialists. This volume is the result of a major research project that aimed to investigate Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age grave goods in relation to their possible use as special dress accessories or as equipment employed within ritual activities and ceremonies. Many items of adornment can be shown to have formed elements of elaborate costumes, probably worn by individuals, both male and female, who held important ritual roles within society. Furthermore, the analysis has shown that various categories of object long interpreted as mundane types of tool were in fact items of bodily adornment or implements used in ritual contexts, or in the special embellishment of the human body.

Although never intended to form a complete catalogue of all the relevant artefacts from England the volume provides an extensive, and intensively illustrated, overview of a large proportion of the grave goods from English burial sites.


“Nearing retirement, Ann Woodward garnered experts on stone, gold, copper, bronze, bone, amber, and jet (but no pot or flint person) in order to re-describe and re-evaluate the fabulous Wessex (and Yorkshire and Derbyshire) Beaker and mature Early Bronze Age ‘well-furnished graves’. After more than a decade, during which a number of highly significant papers were published, the second and final major volume appears among us, to dazzle with its care for detail, illustrations (all in colour) and reinterpretations of the assemblages…If this is a retirement swan song (duet, rather), what a hymn sheet, what tunes! We will be humming them for decades.” – Rob Ixer, Current Archaeology

“Surely the main lasting results are the very substantial stores of data on sourcing, manufacture, typology, function and usewear which will serve as an invaluable resource for all scholars of the periods now and in years to come.” – Henrietta Quinnell, Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society

“… a monumental new book by Ann Woodward FSA and John Hunter FSA, with major contributions from Stuart Needham FSA and Alison Sheridan FSA among others. Ritual in Early Bronze Age Grave Goods (Oxbow April 2015) is an outcome of a long research project investigating Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age artefacts (once ascribed to a ‘Wessex Culture’) in relation to their possible uses as dress accessories or equipment employed in rituals and ceremonies. Detailed discussions accompany an extensive, and intensively illustrated, overview of a large proportion of the grave goods from English burial sites.” – SALON online newsletter


Voting opens today on the Current Archaeology website, and is open to the public. Click here to cast your vote! Results will be announced at Current Archaeology Live! 2017 conference. For tickets, see the Current Archaeology website.

Want to order your own copy of Ritual in Early Bronze Age Grave Goods? Buy on our website or call our customer services team on +44 (0) 1226 734350.

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