Keys to the Past

Glossary

Cist

A roughly rectangular structure used for inhumation and cremation burials and formed from four or more stone slabs set on edge, and covered by one or more horizontal slabs. The base may be a slab, unaltered earth or clay. Cists may be built on the surface or dug into the ground. They are usually buried beneath a pile of stones which form a cairn.
Occasionally the slabs utilised may be decorated with Cup and ring marked stone motifs. In such cases debate is strong about the meaning, (if any), of these particular stones and the dating with the Bronze Age. Generally, these are Bronze Age (numerous examples) - sometimes being reused with that period - but also Roman (Beadnell and Sewingshields, Northumberland) to the Early Medieval long-cist cemeteries at Bamburgh's Bowl Hole site, where many slabs were used for inhumations.

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