Man over board – on missing skeletal remains, lack of artefacts and the symbolic meaning behind cairn and mound constructions This paper builds on the results from the excavation of the field of cairns at Skillingstad (see chapter 3). There are four topics that will be discussed in particular: Do the cairns represent graves, clearance or something else? How should the lack of skeletal remains be interpreted? How should the lack of artefacts be interpreted? How should the symbolic meaning of memorial features in the landscape be understood? As shown throughout the text cairn and mound constructions with a lack of both skeletal remains and artefacts are far from uncommon. This suggests that the construction and the symbolic significance of the monument have been as important as the deposition of remains of the dead. Perhaps mimicking the form and presumably ritualized construction of the cairn/ mound as part of the rituals of life and death in the past society has been sufficient when erecting monuments. Simple monuments with no visible grave appear to have played a major role at Skillingstad and several other burial fields in the early Iron Age. The cairns are interpreted as a more mundane category of graves, but alternatively, they can be understood as traces of rituals performed at the site.
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