Neolithic cave burials

Agency, structure and environment

By Rick Peterson

Neolithic cave burials


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-1886-8
  • Pages: 272
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: April 2019
  • BIC Category: Stone Age: Neolithic period, Landscape archaeology, Archaeology by period / region, Humanities / Landscape archaeology, RELIGION / Antiquities & Archaeology, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Archaeology, Archaeology, Prehistoric Archaeology, Humanities / Archaeology
  • Series: Social Archaeology and Material Worlds


This is the first book-length treatment of Neolithic burial in Britain to focus primarily on cave evidence. It interprets human remains from forty-eight caves and compares them to what we know of Neolithic collective burial elsewhere in Britain and Europe. It reviews the archaeology of these cave burials and treats them as important evidence for the study of mortuary practice. Drawing on evidence from archaeology, anthropology, osteology and cave science, the book demonstrates that cave burial was one of the earliest elements of the British Neolithic. It also shows that Early Neolithic cave-burial practice was highly varied, with many similarities to other burial rites. However, by the Middle Neolithic, a funerary practice which was specific to caves had developed.


'Neolithic Cave Burials is important reading for anyone interested in Neolithic Britain, funerary practice, prehistoric landscapes or cave archaeology. It is a valuable book, one that provides the first comprehensive review of the subject and leaves us in no doubt as to the significance of caves as ritual and funerary loci in the limestone landscapes of Neolithic Britain.'
Marion Dowd, Institute of Technology Sligo, Ireland, The Prehistoric Society

'Peterson's wealth of experience in the excavation of prehistoric archaeological sites has enabled him to collate and reappraise the evidence for a large number of Neolithic cave burial sites, and the book is an important and timely addition to the literature on cave archaeology.'
Andrew Chamberlain, University of Manchester, Cave and Karst Science 46/2


1 The body in the cave
2 In praise of limestone
3 Gestures and positions
4 How do caves act?
5 Origins
6 Written on the body
7 Deep time
8 Temporality, structure and environment


Rick Peterson is Senior Lecturer in Archaeology at the University of Central Lancashire

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