Late Neolithic

Late Neolithic funerary practices are in evidence at the Forteviot (MPK1888) cemetery which features deposits of cremated remains (Noble et al 2017; 2020). Here, nine discrete deposits representing 18 individuals were found along with a small, undecorated hemispherical cup that could have been a chafing vessel for transporting burning embers to light the pyres (Sheridan 2020). Fragments of long bone ‘skewer’ pins that had probably fastened funerary garments were also discovered (Leach et al 2020). A single standing stone, of which only the stump survives, may have been a marker for the cemetery. Bayesian dating of radiocarbon dates for the calcined remains indicated a currency for this cemetery of between 3080–2900 cal BC and 2890–2650 cal BC (at 95%: Hamilton 2020a). This is one of a small number of similar cemeteries in lowland Scotland. A slightly earlier example is Cairnpapple, West Lothian and it has comparanda in northern and southern England for example at Duggleby Howe, Yorkshire, and Dorchester upon Thames, Oxfordshire (Noble et al 2017).

Plan of the timber enclosure at Forteviot © Brophy and Noble 2020

The Forteviot cemetery doesn’t appear to have an association with Grooved Ware pottery and it may be that it pre-dated the use of this kind of pottery in Perth and Kinross. Elsewhere in mainland Scotland, in contrast to Orkney, there are indications that cremation was the funerary rite associated with this ceramic tradition (Sheridan and Schulting 2020). However, to date there have been no finds of human remains associated with Grooved Ware in this region. That said, at Haughs of Pittentian (MPK18545) there is a deposit of cremated human remains which have been radiocarbon dated to the 30th century BC (Becket et al forthcoming). Stratigraphically, this deposit appears to post-date the construction of the timber ‘square-in-circle’ structure excavated there (Becket et al forthcoming). Also present, and loosely associated with the monument, was the base of a single Grooved Ware pot.