4.9 Burial Incidence of Adults, Adults with Children, and of Children Only

The term burial incidence covers both the deliberate common burial of more than one person in one burial event, and the incidence on the site of disposals that might have occurred as different events over time. Furthermore, a 'group' may consist of one individual as the sole burial on the site in that period. The term burial incidence is used simply to indicate whether a site had only adults buried there (112), only children (113), or whether both occurred (110) in the same period. Whether significance can be attached to the results is as uncertain as those for sex incidence for the same reasons as given in 4.8: the calendrical periods for which results are shown cover at least several and in some cases many generations, and intentions to separate adult and child burial may not have been carried out consistently through the years, if any such intentions indeed ever existed.

The dividing line between adult and child is set out in the coding where 109 and 108 cover children aged 0-1 and 2-17 respectively, and Codes 105-107 indicate adults from age 18 upwards. (Further comments on the age divisions follow in Section 4.10.)

The three areas of south west, south and south east have been examined for all five periods from 3500bc-AD43, and the relevant results are set out in Tables 226-240. The section treats burial incidence starting from the broadest picture for the whole geographical area over the whole period, and moves from that to individual areas.

Overall patterns 3500bc-AD43

The summary picture

Over 3500bc-AD43, Table 240 shows an even proportion of sites with adult and child and adult only burial incidence at 12%, and child only incidence low at 2%. The south west has a higher than average adult only incidence at 15%, but the other variations from the average among the areas are slight at 1-2%.

The period pictures

Table 236 shows more deviation from the overall average among the five periods. 3500-2500bc has a high representation of adult and child deposits at 31%, about three times the incidence of other periods, except for 14/1300-8/700bc where it is four times the frequency, against the average of 12%. The period 3500-2500bc also has a higher frequency of adult only deposits at 16% than the other periods, 8/700-100bc being closest at 14%, against the overall average of 12%. As before, the base figures from which these percentages are derived are not high, save for 2500-14/1300bc (Table 235).

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