Boscombe Bowmen

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The Boscombe Bowmen is the name given by archaeologists to a group of early Bronze Age individuals found in a shared burial at Boscombe Down near Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England.

The grave contained a total of seven burials: three children, a teenager and three men. Analysis of the skulls suggests that the men and the teenager were related to each other. The eldest man was buried in a crouched position with the bones of the others scattered around him and their skulls resting at his feet. They became known as the Bowmen because several flint arrowheads were placed in the grave. Other grave goods included a boar's tusk, a bone toggle, flint tools, and eight Beaker vessels, an unusually high number.

Lead isotope analysis of the men's teeth has indicated that they grew up in the areas either of modern Wales or in the Lake District, but left in childhood. This was thought to be contemporary with the major building work of erecting the Sarsen Circle and the trilithons at Stonehenge but new research indicates that these burials occurred shortly after Stonehenge Phase 3ii.[1]

The Bowmen were found in 2003 during roadworks being carried out on behalf of the military contractor that operates the Boscombe Down airfield. The burials are thought to date from around 2300 BCE, making them broadly contemporary with the Amesbury Archer who was found nearby.

The finds are on display at the new Wessex Gallery of Archaeology, which opened at the Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum in 2014.

The bowmen feature as characters in Mark Patton's novel, Undreamed Shores,[2] and part of the storyline is based on the circumstances of their burial.[3]

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  1. ^ Pearson, Mike; Ros Cleal, Peter Marshall, Stuart Needham, Josh Pollard, Colin Richards, Clive Ruggles, Alison Sheridan, Julian Thomas, Chris Tilley, Kate Welham, Andrew Chamberlain, Carolyn Chenery, Jane Evans, Chris Knüsel, (September 2007). "The Age of Stonehenge". Antiquity 811 (313): 617–639. 
  2. ^ Patton, M.A. 2012 Undreamed Shores, Edinburgh, Crooked Cat Publications. ISBN 1908910410; ISBN 978-1908910417.
  3. ^

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