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    Abstract

    Bronze Age Cephalotaphy in Wiltshire Mr. J. F. S. Stone records in Man for March the discovery of a separate burial of a skull in the course of excavations of Beaker Folk dwelling-pits surrounding the cluster of flint-mine shafts on Easton Downs, Wilts. Authenticated instances of the ancient burial rite of cephalotaphy are rare in England. The barrow in which the discovery was made is small and low, being 23 ft. in diameter and 2 ft. high. The body of the barrow was composed entirely of chalk rubble which had been extracted from the surrounding ditch. The ditch was square in section, 2 ft. 3 in. wide and cut in the chalk to a depth of 16 in. A shell-filled band of humus containing numbers of well-patinated flints to a depth of 8 inches overlay the primary chalk silting. Very slightly north of central was found a comparatively large stone cist, 5 ft. 6 in. long, by 3 ft. 2 in. wide, cut into the chalk twelve inches below the original surface. The total depth was 3 ft. 8 in. In the south-west corner was an almost perfect skull, twelve inches from the west wall and seven from the south. It lay on the left parietal and faced south, the skull base, therefore, being toward the west wall and thus precluding the possibility of any body having been attached to it at the time of burial. The skull had been pillowed on six inches of chalk dust. The atlas and axis were articulated in their normal position; but the lower jaw had been moved by rabbits to a distance two feet away. The vertebrae fell away on the skull being removed, proving that it had not been moved since the flesh rotted away. Propped against the vault of the skull, and erect on its broader end, was a.roughly chipped bar of flint 9J in. long, 3J in. wide at the broader end, and averaging 2 in. thick. No dateable object was found, but various considerations suggest.the Early Bronze Age. Miss M. L. Tildesley reports on the skull, her conclusion being “Early Bronze Age very probable; La Tene or Romano-British possible; Anglo-Saxon improbable”.

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