Keys to the Past

Glossary

Grave goods

Grave goods are objects placed in a grave with the dead - whether they are inhumations or cremations. This practice was common in the Neolithic and Bronze Age, when pottery containers - such as incense cups, flint tools, daggers, or jet necklaces were placed in the graves, the grave forms themselves varying. Grave goods only rarely appear to have been used in the Iron Age, but became common again in the Roman and Anglo-Saxon periods.

The exact purpose of grave goods is not always clear. Some people may have believed they were used as gifts to the gods, whilst other people may have thought that the dead person might the objects in the next world (whatever that world was). With the arrival of Christianity in the early Medieval period the use of grave goods declined, though occasionally important people, such as priests, might still have objects put into their graves in the Medieval period, such as pilgrimage badges.

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