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Children's Burials in Fifth-Century Britain and Connections to the Roman Past

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posted on 24.04.2018 by Janet E. Kay

This paper considers the relationship between child burials and the way burial parties used them to create connections to the Roman past during Britain's long fifth century, AD 350–550. It examines how both children and adults were buried with late-Roman and early-fifth-century material culture such as bracelets, coins, repurposed Roman curiosities and disc brooches. During the fifth century, though these items were buried with individuals of all ages, the total grave goods assemblage of which they were a part differed for children and adults. Children were usually buried only with Roman material culture, whereas adults were also given items from Anglo-Saxon or other early medieval material cultures. As the chronological distance between a community and the Roman past lengthened, the graves of children – the future of the living community – were used to commemorate or construct connections to the Roman past.

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