Late Neolithic (c. 3500 BC)



Whitegrounds Burial

At Whitegrounds in the Yorkshire Wolds at NGR SE 782682, a Neolithic stone-lined linear mortuary structure was identified within a stone-capped oval mound with a walled entrance passage that was eventually closed by a stone filling. Dated to 5040±100 BP (4040-3640 cal BC) and 5260±200 BP (4510-3640 cal BC), the inner part of the Whitegrounds structure had an intact charnel spread of two semi-articulated skeletons with fragmentary bones of six others: also, three skulls were placed together. This suggests a possible excarnation practice, where the bodies of the deceased would be left in the open in special enclosures or on special platforms until only the bones remained, which would then be placed in the burial monument proper. Recent (1999) determination of the 13C ratio in the skeletal assemblages pointed to a diet surprisingly low in fish protein.

Pottery, a key indicator of date in prehistoric archaeology, was a Neolithic innovation. The earliest ceramic associations for Yorkshire, and indeed for northern England, sites are of the so-called ‘Grimston’ style (named after Grimston in the Yorkshire Wolds), represented by fragmentary carinated bowls from the entrance grave with a date range of 4340-3700 cal BC. This is therefore amongst the earliest pottery found anywhere in the north of the UK.

Later in the Middle Neolithic period, a grave burial was inserted into the centre of the barrow. A finely polished jet slider and a ‘Seamer’ type flint axe accompanied a crouched inhumation that provided a date of 4480±90 BP (3500-2910 cal BC).

     

©: T.Manby (after T.C.M. Brewster)

Burial plan and grave goods
Whitegrounds, Burythorpe, E. Yorks.

(Late Neolithic c. 3500 BC)