Auna Campbell | 2024 I.S. Symposium

Auna Campbell head shot

Name: Auna Campbell
Title: The Effects of Early Christianity on Early Medieval Scottish Mortuary Practices
Majors: Archaeology; History
Minor: Anthropology
Advisors: Nigel Brush; Peter Pozefsky

The arrival of Christianity to Scotland changed native Scottish culture and mortuary practices, which has continued to affect modern Scotland. I argue that the introduction of Christianity into Scotland changed not only their religious and mortuary beliefs, but that it also affected the ways in which ancient Scots understood and processed death. This can be seen in the changing mortuary practices of ancient Scots. During the Iron Age, the most common ways of disposing a body included excarnation, cremation, and internment, while later in the Medieval Ages, the common disposal changed to include mostly to inhumation. The location of the bodies also shows the changes brought by the Christian ideology. During the Iron Age in Scotland, bodies were mostly individually buried or in a small group, but in the Medieval Ages, larger cemeteries became more common. To attempt to prove my thesis correct, I examined both historical and archaeological data to gain a better understanding of Scotland in general and their mortuary practice prior to Christianity during the Late Iron Age and the Early Medieval Age. The purpose of this study is to show how religion can alter a culture and their mortuary practices and using both archaeology and history to accomplish this. It is important because religion affects many aspects of a culture and understanding the history of a culture is required to accurately examine modern culture. A culture’s mortuary practices can tell scholars how ancient cultures understood death, what their religious beliefs were, and even how cultures interacted with one another.

Posted in Symposium 2024 on April 24, 2024.