Multiple identities in the Beaker period: interpreting inhumations out of the Beaker spotlight in southern England

Chris Carey, Richard Higham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The Beaker period in southern England is associated with the appearance of a highly visible set of material culture in the archaeological record, primarily associated with inhumation burials. This Beaker material culture has a long history of archaeological research and has resulted in this period being named after a style of pottery, the Beaker. However, the funerary record for this period is one that exhibits substantial variability. This paper considers how the archaeological narrative of the Beaker period has been constructed and presents a set of examples that exclude Beaker pottery and Beaker artefacts from the grave assemblage, located in southern England. Herein, it is questioned what these burials represent and whether they can be considered Beaker burials or represent other identities co-existing with Beaker using societies. Whilst the Beaker period does not represent an unchanging, fixed set of traditions over time or space, the examples employed demonstrate non-Beaker related burials to have been present from early in the Beaker period. We aim to highlight this important aspect of the archaeological record as requiring more research and synthesis, and promote discussion of non-Beaker identities during this dynamic period of prehistory.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-30
Number of pages30
JournalThe Archaeological Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 3 May 2019

Bibliographical note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in The Archaeological Journal on 3/5/2019, available online:


  • Beaker period
  • identity
  • inhumation
  • Beaker pottery

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