When Was Westerhus Churchyard in Use?
Keywords:Maximum likelihood method, Monte Carlo simulations, 14Cdates,, medieval churchyard, infant burials, Sweden
The period of use for the Swedish medieval churchyard of Westerhus has been estimated by the maximum likelihood method. Raw data consist of 30 calibrated '4C-dates of some of the skeletons from the site. Bias and other properties of the maximum likelihood estimator are analyzed via a number of Monte Carlo simulations. The point estimates imply that the site was used in the period 1073-1356, that is, a somewhat longer period than previously assumed. The estimated length of the period of use affects the interpretation ofthe great number ofburied children. Population calculations lead to the conclusion that the six agglomerations of children's graves cannot be interpreted as mass graves.
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