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date: 29 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Studying the various ways in which Romano-British society disposed of its dead can reveal important information about attitudes towards and the treatment of certain social groups. The particular issue addressed here is, how can we study the treatment of those who contravened acceptable norms of social behaviour? Who were these people and did their behaviour in life affect their burial after death? Certain minority rites are almost invariably put forward as evidence for the treatment of socially stigmatized persons. This chapter aims to assess the evidence for social marginality in Roman Britain through a critique of traditional academic approaches and the evidence commonly used in analysis. Certain shortcomings are identified and a new methodology is proposed that brings us closer to appreciating the role of these minority rites and their implications for understanding the social identity of the persons to whom they were applied.

Keywords: deviancy, burial, decapitation, prone burial, contextualization, cemetery, Roman Britain, Cambridgeshire

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