the Rocks in Sweden
Some of the carvings and surface eroison
as known prior to our work included about 15 carts, 60 wheels or discs
and many cupmarks. Several of the carts have a pair of draught animals,
probably horses. Others have no animals recorded. After five days of
work cleaning the rock of mud, leaves and other debris, drying it, experimenting
with various ways of recording by paper and carbon sheet rubbing, we
managed to identify and record over 20 very faint 'new' images. These
consist of two pairs of (previously invisible) animals attached to already-known
carts, a number of discs or wheels, cupmarks and an unfinished cart
The rock surface at Frännarp may still retain some traces of carvings that we cannot now detect. Some degradation has probably occurred in the past decades and it may be that only very sophisticated high-tech methods will be able to pick up the faintest of images now. Meantime our basic archaeological work has managed to record enough new information to warrant a full publication of the site and work proceeds towards this. Funding for the 2001 study was provided by the British Academy. I am also grateful to the small team who helped in the work and to Lars Larsson for negotiating access to the site and its immediate surrounds.
Some of the carvings and surface eroison
amazingly warm Autumn days must be providing some much-needed opportunities
for fieldwork denied earlier in the year due to the outbreak of Foot
and Mouth. I have yearned to be out there myself whilst at the same
time thoroughly enjoying my first chance to edit PAST. Linda has been
busy carrying out a Teaching Quality Assessment in wait for it my
own Department! Life can be ironic!
is an area of international archaeological importance. Although famous
primarily for the Carnac Alignments, there are hundreds of passage graves
and earthern long mounds in the area, as well as smaller alignments
and standing stones. Although the typology of the Neolithic monuments
and associated material has been extensively studied (eg Boujot and
Cassen 1993), the landscape contexts of the monuments have received
little systematic archaeological attention.
software was used to create digital terrain models from each pair of
overlapping photographs. The individual terrain models were mosaicked
together to generate a single terrain model for the entire area. There
is a much greater level of detail present in the new terrain model than
can be obtained from published maps. The current terrain model has an
accuracy of at least 1.5 metres, and it is hoped that this will soon
be improved further. Orthophoto maps (photographs which have the geometric
properties of maps) were created, using the terrain model to provide
information on the height of each point in the photograph. Due to the
high quality of the aerial photographs, the locations of many monuments
are visible clearly and their locations can be ascertained accurately.
The aerial photographs also enable both the total area covered by the
monument and the location of individual standing stones, to be plotted,
rather than the single points recorded for most sites by published surveys.
Differential GPS reading being taken at Kerguerhan
Corinne Roughley and Colin Shell
Investigation team from the York office of English Heritage is half
way through a three year field project which will provide detailed survey
and analysis of twelve hillforts in the Cheviot Hills. This partnership
with the Northumberland National Park Authority forms part of the Park's
long term project 'Discovering our Hillfort Heritage' which aims to
increase the understanding of these monuments as the basis for addressing
conservation, management and access issues. So far the team have investigated
seven sites, ranging from the well-known hillfort at Yeavering Bell,
which at 5.6 ha is the largest in the region, to comparatively small
and obscure sites such as Fawcett Shank, less than 8 km away to the
west, which has never previously been planned or analysed in any detail.
Through a process of accurate survey and careful analysis in the field,
the English Heritage team is already achieving a new level of insight
into the evolution and architecture of the settlements and enclosures
which dominate the hilltops of the Cheviots, as well as examining their
impact on the development of the surrounding landscapes.
None of the hillforts
so far surveyed have widespread or incontrovertible evidence of a contemporary
Iron Age landscape surrounding them despite, the fact that at West Hill
and to a lesser extent at Alnham, the surveys encompassed a wide area
around each site. Possible prehistoric cultivation terraces and boundaries
at West Hill may be as early as the Bronze Age and probably continued
in use during the Iron Age. At Alnham prehistoric features surviving
as earthworks are largely absent from the surrounding landscape but
a small Romano-British settlement of enclosed and unenclosed round houses
spreads away from the hillfort. Several terraced trackways probably
served as drove roads bringing livestock to and from the large compounds
within the fort itself.
Differential GPS reading being taken at Kerguerhan
interpretative reports, including surveys, analysis, photographs and ground
models are available from the National Monuments Record, Kemble Drive,
Swindon, SN2 2GZ. It is planned to mark the completion of the project
with a book drawing together the results of the research.
For more details contact:
RECENT NEWS ON PALAEOLITHIC ART
the first week of July the national press and the web gave us the first
pictures of the latest discovery of a decorated cave in France. The cave
of Cussac, we are told, was actually discovered last September and contains
some 40 images of engraved animals and symbols. Doubtless, we will learn
more, although full analysis may take some time (below). Nonetheless,
the announcement seems a suitable stimulus to look at some other recent
developments in the study of palaeolithic art in Western Europe.
La Grotte Chauvet, France
The debate on Shamanism
Research and Conservation
The use of the
technique is also becoming more widespread. For example, the distribution
of decorated caves in Europe reaches as far south as Andalucia. Although
this art has long been known, it tends to be sidelined by the better
known regions for palaeolithic art, such as Perigord or Cantabria, or
confused with later traditions. Nonetheless, there are some 25 palaeolithic
decorated sites in Andalucia, two of which have recently produced AMS
dates: 20,130 +/- 130 uncal. BP for the depiction of an aurochs at La
Pileta (together with other more recent dates), and 19,900 +/- 210 uncal.
BP for charcoal close to the painting of a stag at Nerja. Stylistically,
these figures have been attributed to the Spanish Solutrean, and the
dates seem to confirm this cultural association (Sanchidrián
et al 2001).
Sr José Bullón at
Andrew J Lawson
AT SILBURY HILL
Most of you will
be aware of the collapse of an eighteenth century mineshaft at the top
of the Neolithic site of Silbury Hill, Wiltshire. This mineshaft was
excavated in 1776 on behalf of the Duke of Northumberland and opened
up again in late May 2000 at the top of the Mound. English Heritage
and National Trust structural engineers designed a robust protective
cover, designed to shed water away from the shaft and to prevent accidents.
This was in place two days after the discovery of the hole.
are statistically consistent and calibrate to cal BC 2490 - 2340 (at
95% confidence), firmly placing the chalk wall at the top of Silbury
Hill in the later Neolithic. It is now clear that a similar "crater"
or crown hole was open during part of the 1920s and 1930s, indeed it
appears that the 1776 shaft has been backfilled (or capped), opened
up again, backfilled and opened up once more for much of its existence.
Structural engineers have indicated that the stability of the monument
is less certain than it had appeared, and a seismic survey was then
commissioned to identify any voids within the hill in order to inform
a repair programme.
The current editor testing the polysytrene packing. To the left the installation of the framework for the drilling rig.
| The seismic survey
technique, known as 3D Tomography, produces three-dimensional images through
the ground, and can identify structures and major features such as voids
and cavities. The seismic data is recorded and is being processed using
state-of- the art computer technology in the USA as I write. The first
results are expected in early November, and it is planned to make the
3D images available to the public in future. Once English Heritage has
this information, we will be in a position to assess the problem and take
forward a repair programme.
Further details on the repair of Silbury Hill are available on the English Heritage website www.english-heritage.org.uk and will be updated as the project progresses. As usual, for health and safety reasons, there is no public access to Silbury Hill although the monument can viewed from the car park off the A4. English Heritage plans to publish a new monograph on Silbury Hill once the repair programme is finished which will include all the results of recent work.
| The brainchild
of Justin Claxton, the first Iron Age Research Student Seminar was held
at the University of Wales, Newport in 1998. Its aims were to provide
a showcase for current Iron Age research and to provide an alternative
arena for that research in a relaxed and informal environment. IARSS 2001
saw a record turnout of almost 50 delegates, testimony to its growing
reputation and the hard work of organisers in previous years.
Hosted by the Iron Age postgraduates of the Department of Archaeology at Durham Rachel Pope, Mairi Davies, Imogen WeIIington, Tom Moore and Beverley Still - IARSS 2001 was deemed a success by all who attended. Most institutions were represented in the audience and as in previous years the support IARSS has received by those already established in the field was beyond expectations.
IARSS 2001 began with drinks and a meal to welcome those arriving in Durham on Friday night, an event which rather took its toll on all involved the following morning. The meeting began on Saturday morning with a brief address about IARSS 2001by Rachel Pope on behalf of the organising team, in which Tessa Poller (University of Glasgow) was introduced as the host of IARSS 2002. This was followed with an introduction by Colin Haselgrove (University of Durham) who talked of the need for a review of our research aims in Iron Age studies.
The first session of the day, concentrating on the settlement evidence, was chaired by Ian Armit (Queen's University Belfast). The first paper was by Tom Moore: his analysis of the LrIA settlement record of the south west Midlands identified the 2nd century BC - 1st century AD as a period of localised shift in settlement. He suggests that the forcing of settlement evidence into an overly simplistic chronological framework for the LrIA may be masking what are essentially fairly subtle indicators of social change. Similar concerns were addressed by Mairi Davies whose work in Stirling, Perth and Angus has isolated over-generalisation in the settlement record for her area. Andy Wigley (University of Sheffield) provided an historically-placed consideration of hillfort rampart construction. These papers reinforce the idea that earlier work on the subject, with its tendency to over-generalise, has masked the real complexities of human action.
After coffee, Shelly Werner (University of Edinburgh) provided a Powerpoint presentation which indicated the real potential of GIS Geographical Information Systems in revealing spatial patterns regarding settlement location in NE Scotland. To our disappointment Leo Webley (University of Cambridge) had unavoidably to cancel his paper on 'Artefact deposition and the presentation of social groups in Iron Age Jutland'. Fortunately, Imogen Wellington kindly volunteered her recent TRAC paper on votive deposition in southern Britain and northern France. The paper addressed the potential of coins for reassessing the LIA/ER transition and the belief systems in operation at that time. Imogen's paper was well-placed, as it turned out, to provide a link between the morning and afternoon sessions. Ian Armit drew the first session to a close, praising the standard of papers and welcoming the wide range of approaches now being applied to Iron Age settlement studies across many parts of Britain. Much of the discussion focused on the need to rethink current approaches to fieldwork practice if we are to move towards a more rounded picture of Iron Age settlement landscapes.
After a very good lunch, the afternoon session began. This session, chaired by Richard Hingley (University of Durham), concentrated on the non-settlement evidence, the first three papers looking at different aspects of the evidence for Iron Age ritual practice. Alison Brookes (University of Wales, Newport) began with her work which considers the location of funerary sites within the landscape of SE England and explores the themes of ceremony, ritual segregation and the demarcation of space. Use of landscape was also addressed by Tessa Poller who talked about continuity of landscape transformation regarding the prehistoric monuments of Tara, Co. Meath. Rebecca Craig (MoLAS) gave a fascinating presentation on the human remains from Danebury with their evidence for combative cuts, decapitation and fragmentation as well as their utilisation, along with animal bones, as tools.
After tea Mark Curteis (University of Durham) presented his statistical analyses of the Iron Age coinages of the South Midlands attempting to identify patterns of deposition for both IA and Roman contexts. This was followed by the extensive work done by Melanie Johnson (University of Edinburgh) in her production of an Iron Age ceramic sequence for West Lewis. Her work reveals the desirability for absolute dating of ceramics assemblages and also the shift towards pots as evidence for human activity rather than just classificatory tools. Richard Hingley summed up by complimenting the speakers and by exploring some areas of overlap between the papers presented in the afternoon. He argued that we need to break down some of the barriers between different types of specialism in Iron Age studies and that several of the contributions had been particularly valuable from this perspective.
The decision to have John Barrett as discussant turned out to be an excellent one. His plea for us to take seriously our responsibility to write histories and not simply continue to catalogue material was well-received by the audience. In the general discussion academics and students alike shared concerns about the current state of Iron Age research and where to take it in the future. There was a strong sense that there is a 'new generation of Iron Age research' in our midst, with young researchers - students of post-processual theory making a return to the data and being more broad-minded in their approaches to the material. One concern was how the results of this new work can be used to represent the Iron Age to a wider audience. How do we go about using our local and regional studies to write informed narratives of the Iron Age without falling into the traps which previous generations have encountered?
Four main themes could be identified in the papers, the questions and the discussion. The first of these took the form of questions regarding the reassessment of methodological, chronological and typological frameworks. The second concern was involved in gaining a real understanding of taphonomic and depositional processes. Third was the role of landscape and environment regarding settlement location and funerary activity. Underlying all the papers, however, even when it went un-stated, was a real sense of changing our approaches to the material in an attempt to identify human action in the Iron Age.
In his summing up, John Barrett mentioned the importance of rapid publication. After two very successful meetings in Southampton and Leicester in 1999 and 2000, we are pleased to announce the forthcoming publication of our first monograph of proceedings. The monograph is entitled Re-searching the Iron Age and is edited by Jodie Humphrey (University of Leicester) and Justin Claxton (University of Wales, Newport). The title underlines the dominant theme of IARSS to date: that the vast majority of current research in Iron Age studies is involved in re-addressing our data and re-assessing our methodologies. The volume is the first in a planned series of bi-annual monographs to be published by Leicester University Press. To order a copy please email Jodie Humphrey at: email@example.com. The Durham proceedings will be published along with those of Glasgow in the summer of 2003.
The overall standard of presentation at IARSS 2001 was good, as was the general discussion, both factors aided, it is hoped, by the informal nature of the setting. The day ran surprisingly smoothly, mostly due to the help of several non-Iron Age postgraduates in the Durham department who gave their help freely and helped ensure the day's success. Unfortunately, the trip to Stanwick - which had been planned for Sunday morning - had to be cancelled due to Foot and Mouth restrictions. This was, however, more than made up for on the Saturday night with post-discussion drinks and a rather raucous meal.
One of the most important aspects of IARSS is that it provides the opportunity for Iron Age research students to meet and exchange ideas. Already, in several cases, strong friendships have been forged as a result of IARSS and this can only be a good thing for the future of Iron Age studies. Communications after the event have stressed their enjoyment of the day and attention now turns to IARSS 2002 which will be held in Glasgow next June.
IARSS 2001 was supported by the Rosemary Cramp Fund.
is becoming increasingly easier to track down on the web with university
departments, research institutions and archaeological companies all
making an effort to make their information widely available. It might
be said that only a few of these sites are particularly innovative,
while only one or two make any use of the interactive capacities of
the medium but they do all provide useful information.
Peter Reynolds - mould-breaker
Peter Fowler and Gill Swanton
PARTY PARLIAMENTARY ARCHAEOLOGY GROUP (APPAG)
This Group was set up in July 2001 and is asking all organisations and individuals who have an interest in archaeology to submit comments on the current state of archaeology in the UK. "Areas of concern may include legislation, organisational matters and issues relating to culture, tourism, the environment and economy". Points raised should not exceed 250 words and should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org (preferred option) or sent to Lord Redesdale, Secretary, House of Lords, London SW1A OPW. The deadlines are Nov 30th 2001 for individuals and January 15th 2002 for groups. More information on the Group, which is chaired by Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorn, can be found at www.sal.org.uk. The Society's Council debated the matter at its recent meeting and will be making a submission.
AGENDA FOR THE IRON AGE
This document - Understanding the British Iron Age: An Agenda for Action has been prepared for publication by Julie Gardiner and is now in press, due for publication in November. Published by Wessex Archaeology on behalf of the Iron Age Research Seminar and the Prehistoric Society, it carries the Society logo and will cost £2.00 to members inc. p&p.
BITS AND PIECES...
Proceedings Volume 67, 2001
Julie Gardiner, Editor
BACK NUMBERS OF THE PROCEEDINGS
Just a taste of three new titles. Book reviews, co-ordinated by John McNabb, will soon be appearing on the Society's web site
European Landscapes of Rock-Art.
This study of the non-portable record of how prehistoric Europeans viewed themselves within their surroundings uses a number of case studies from many countries to examine landscape as an essential part of rock-art construction, emphasising location, the intentionality of the artist and the needs of the audience. It also considers more recent graffiti, challenges traditional recording methods and looks beyond the art to the society that made it. An exciting addition to the lively debate that surrounds the subject.
Prehistoric Sites of Breconshire
Divided into three sections, Stone, Bronze and Iron Ages, the volume considers evolving land use and settlement patterns, man's reaction to changing climatic conditions and considers lifestyles, beliefs and customs. Following each section is an individual guide to the more important and often more accessible sites. For those who enjoy landscape something to go on the Christmas list!
Potterne 1982-5: Animal Husbandry in Later Prehistoric Wiltshire
The volume describes the first relatively extensive excavation of a Late Bronze Age/Early Iron Age "midden" site. Notoriously difficult to spot in the landscape due to their sheer size and melding into the local topography, several have now been recognised but Potterne is the only site so far to have been researched in such detail. Written by a one-time Meetings Secretary to the Society, look out for a full review on the web site soon.
Call for Papers
If you would like an application form and further details of the conference, please contact the Sheffield University Archaeology Society at the same address or email
There will be
further information and an application form available on our website
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