Extreme Justice: Decapitations and Prone Burials in Three Late Roman Cemeteries at Knobb's Farm, Cambridgeshire
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Original versionBritannia. 2021, 152, 119 - 173. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0068113X21000064
Excavations at Knobb's Farm, Somersham, Cambridgeshire, uncovered three small late Roman cemeteries, positioned at the edge of a farming settlement. The 52 burials found included 17 decapitated bodies and 13 prone burials – far higher than the British average. In two cases, cut marks show decapitation to have been the mechanism of death, and cuts on two other bodies indicate they experienced extreme violence. We conclude that the decapitations were the result of judicial execution. The significance of the prone burials is less clear, but it is demonstrably related to decapitation. Supplementary material is available online (https://doi.org/10.1017/S0068113X21000064) and comprises a detailed osteological report and skeleton catalogue, specialist reports, DNA and isotopic analyses, and a complete description of the settlement's development.