"Gold was piled on the biers of dead kings and queens; and mounds covered them, and the stone doors were shut; and the grass grew over all."
Sutton Hoo Burial Mound
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeSutton Hoo Burial Mound - Credit: Kim Roper/Wikimedia Commons

A mound of earth and stones covering a grave in this way is called a tumulus, barrow, burial mound, or kurgan. These forms of burial can be found in a number of cultures, including ancient Greek and Norse societies, and are usually reserved for kings or important people. They can also be seen in Britain, constructed in the Bronze Age, and later by the Vikings and Saxons. Burial mounds might include one or more inner chambers for the burial of the king and his family, along with his gold and prize possessions. The latter might include weapons, armour, and even horses. In some cases the inclusion of these items could be based on a belief that the dead were able to take possessions with them into the afterlife.

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