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Figure 1. Painting by Jane Brayne of the Amesbury Archer near Stonehenge. © Jane Brayne.
          'King of Stonehenge?' asked the Daily Mail. BBC television news dubbed the man dead man 'The Amesbury Archer'. The 'richest' Beaker burial yet found in Britain made the news from The Sun to The Times. All good stuff for an excavation in advance of the building of a new school at Boscombe Down, near Amesbury, Wiltshire. Up to the time that the burial of the Amesbury Archer was discovered, the main interest had been a (rather fine) late Romano-British inhumation cemetery. Only two, or perhaps three, of the burials that were excavated are of Early Bronze Age date. There is no surviving evidence to suggest that the grave of the Archer was covered by a barrow, but the barrows that surmount a number of Beaker burials are small and as there is evidence for a timber mortuary chamber, it may be that there was once a small mound of earth or turf.
         The Amesbury Archer lived to be between 35-50 years old. His mourner's buried him in a flexed position on his left hand side and with his face to the north. Buried alongside him were the accoutrements of a hunter or warrior, and other symbols of status. Some of the objects found in the grave hint at how he was dressed or adorned when he was buried. On his forearm there was a slate 'wristguard' or 'bracer', perhaps to protect his arm from the recoil of the bow; perhaps a symbol of status. Next to the wristguard was a bone pin that may have held a leather cloak or mantle. Partly covered by his torso was a tanged copper knife that may have been worn in a sheath on the chest.
          Within touching distance of the dead man's face were two Beakers, a spatula for working flints made from red deer, boars tusks, a cache of flints, and another smaller tanged copper knife. Some, perhaps all, of these things are likely to have been in a small bag or container. Many of the flints were tools, including flint knives, scrapers, arrowhead blanks, other items include unused flint flakes and a nodule of iron from a strike-a-light.
         Behind the man's back lay another Beaker, more boars tusks, and another cache of flints. In contrast to the cache in front of the Archer, many of the tools had been used. Next to this was a stone, perhaps a cushion stone used in metalworking or a whetstone.
          Scattered over the Archer's waist and legs but at a slightly higher level than the other grave goods were 15 barbed and tanged arrowheads. The height at which they were found suggests that they were scattered over the man's lower body and legs, and not placed on the floor of the timber chamber. Two more Beakers lay by the man's bottom and feet. By his knees there was another 'wristguard' or 'bracer', a third small tanged copper knife, a shale ring, presumably a belt ring, and two gold 'basket earrings.' These finds suggest that some pieces of costume or regalia were placed in the grave by the body rather than on or over it.
Figure 2
Figure 2. The gold earrings. Photograph by Elaine A. Wakefield © Wessex Archaeology.

King of Stonehenge?
         The 'Amesbury Archer' is the most well-furnished Beaker burial yet found in Britain. Previously Beaker burials have often been considered 'rich' if they contain more than a handful of objects, one of which is of copper or bronze, or of gold. It is the number of finds, almost 100 (mainly of flint), their early date within the Bronze Age, the quality of some of them, and above all the associations between them that are particularly important. All the finds are of well-known types within the Beaker 'package' that is found across much of central and western Europe.
          In a British context the gold earrings (or perhaps hair tress ornaments) are rare, with only seven other findspots known, and typical of primary Bell Beaker goldwork. The association of three tanged knives - almost certainly of copper - of slightly different shapes and sizes is without parallel, as is the number of Beakers from a single burial. Some of the Beakers are cord decorated, some comb decorated. The range of arrowheads, 'wristguards' or 'bracers', and other tools are amongst the largest groups of archery equipment found together. The flints represent materials for most eventualities and appear to have been largely produced by one person.
          Pending radicarbon dating and detailed assessment of the finds, the burial is provisionally dated to between 2,400-2,100 BC. The Archer's burial lies about 5 km south-east of Stonehenge. It was in the later third millennium BC that the massive stones were brought to Stonehenge to build the stone circles. The other great monuments nearby continued to be used and modified. Recent thinking has been along the lines that the 'burial record of the later part of third millennium BC (associated with the Beaker period) reveals no certain social differences between individuals which might be indicative of a ranked society.' (Parker Pearson and Ramilisonina 1998, 322-3). The discovery of the burial of the Amesbury Archer shows for the first time that at this date there were indeed individuals of - as portrayed in the grave goods that his mourners chose to place with him - great wealth and status. Is it a coincidence that the Archer was buried so close to the great monuments of Durrington Walls, Stonehenge and Woodhenge?

A.P. Fitzpatrick,
Wessex Archaeology

Parker Pearson, M. and Ramilisonina, 1998, 'Stonehenge for the ancestors: the stones pass on the message', Antiquity 72, 308-26 (also 'Analogy and Stonehenge: some responses', ibid.: 847-56).



The Ringlemere Cup
Figure 1. The Ringlemere cup. © Trustees of the British Museum

        In November last year a metal detectorist was working over a field in the parish of Woodnesborough, Kent when he received a signal almost at the detection limit of his equipment. The source of the signal was a rare example of an earlier Bronze Age gold cup, one of only two known from this country. Cliff Bradshaw, who has a keen interest in archaeology, followed procedure impeccably; his find was notified to the Coroner as potential Treasure under the 1996 Treasure Act. By involving the local Finds Liaison Officer, Michael Lewis (employed under the Portable Antiquities scheme to record archaeological finds reported voluntarily), the first step was taken towards the investigation of the site. An excavation was then carried out by the Canterbury Archaeological Trust under the direction of Keith Parfitt with funding from English Heritage.
         The cup had been badly crushed, possibly by the subsoiling machine which might also have dragged it from its original burial spot (though there are no striations on the metal), but it is otherwise complete. On delivery to the British Museum for study and analysis, almost the first thing we did was to get it alongside the gold cup from Rillaton (Cornwall).This dates to c. 1700-1500BC and was found in the early part of the nineteenth century in a burial cairn with a bronze dagger; other finds including a pottery vessel and what were probably faience beads were lost. This burial stands late in the series of richly-furnished graves of the Early Bronze Age with its main focus in Wessex, and having clear connections with other parts of Britain and Europe.
         The Ringlemere cup, as it is now known, is a little larger than Rillaton. As far as one can tell in its crumpled state it is about 112mm high; the gold is certainly thicker. There are striking similarities in the broad strap handle attached by rivets with lozenge-shaped washers (a feature also shared with the gold cup from Fritzdorf, near Bonn) and the corrugated decoration of its body. A neat row of dots was punched just under the rim from the outside of the vessel. It was probably (apart, of course, from the handle) made in one piece, and hammered onto a former. The plain, conical base with omphalos shows hammer marks just visible in the right light.

The Rillaton Cup
Figure 2. The Rillaton cup. © Trustees of the British Museum

         Survey and subsequent excavation at the find-spot confirmed that there was a low remnant mound surrounded by a substantial circular ditch. Pottery and flintwork from the mound material, and from small pits, showed that there had been Late Neolithic (Grooved Ware) activity on the site. The cup itself appears to have come from within the mound material with no evidence of a dug feature apart from an old animal burrow in the top of which the cup may have been resting; at the time of writing there are various possibilities: the cup was dragged by agricultural machinery and burrowing activity from its original burial place on the old ground surface, or in a grave or other cut feature, or it was inserted into an existing mound not far from where it was found. All this remains to be resolved, but we do now have important information about the nature of the site and its immediate area.
         A small number of cups in gold, silver, amber and shale are known from the later Early Bronze Age in north-western Europe, some from graves. Amber and shale cups have been found with burials of the Wessex Culture in southern Britain. They may echo pottery cups deposited in funerary contexts in Central Europe (for example the 'classical Aunjetitz' cups). The earliest gold in north-west Europe was relatively small-scale trinketry in sheet gold, for example the basket ornaments found with some Beaker burials of the mid- to late third millennium BC, followed by lunulae. Objects like the Ringlemere and Rillaton cups and other embossed work show the development of more sophisticated goldsmithing skills which are seen par excellence in the Mold gold cape (c.1900-1600 BC).
         This remarkable find, as unexpected as it was welcomed, has given us an important new insight into European prehistory. It bears particularly on the network of trading and other connections which allowed ideas as well as goods to travel long distances in the changing world of the early metal age.

Gillian Varndell & Stuart Needham



Perimortem trauma
Figure 1. Perimortem trauma, on an adolescent from Belas Knap

         Violence is a feature of modern life that we are confronted with on a daily basis, from a variety of media. Yet when it comes to discussing the existence and nature of conflict in earlier prehistory, and particularly the Neolithic period, we often seem reluctant to impart much importance to the phenomena. This can be contrasted with earlier scholars such as Thurnam (1869:185), and later Piggott (1954:47), who saw widespread evidence of interpersonal conflict, human sacrifice and even head-hunting in the British Neolithic. More recently, when violence is discussed at all, the focus is typically on causewayed enclosures such as Hambledon Hill and Crickley Hill, with the good evidence they provide for large-scale conflict (Mercer 1999; Roger Mercer is a notable expection to the more general trend of avoiding or downplaying the topic). Frequent reference is also made to the small number of skeletons with embedded projectile points, such as Ascott-under-Wychwood and, more recently, Penywyrlod (Wysocki and Whittle 2001). While undeniably important, both the architectural evidence from the few causewayed enclosures that seem to have been subjected to attack, and the dramatic evidence from embedded projectile points, do not begin to provide the whole picture of the extent, nature and context of violent conflict at this time. The skeletal evidence is a resource with much to contribute to this discussion, one that has been significantly underutilised.
         The purpose of this brief note is to present some of the preliminary findings of an ongoing investigation into the incidence of cranial trauma in earlier Neolithic Britain, c. 4000-3400 cal BC. We focus on cranial evidence for three reasons: 1) crania are the best-represented elements in many collections, 2) the identification of perimortem (occurring at or near the time of death) trauma is usually more straightforward on crania than on postcrania, and 3) evidence of cranial trauma provides a different view of violence to that seen with the projectile point injuries that have until now been emphasised for the British Neolithic.

Perimortem trauma
Figure 2. Perimortem trauma on a probable adult female from Coldrum

         One of the problems with previous identifications of trauma, such as those made by Thurnam, is that researchers were as yet unfamiliar with distinguishing between breakages in fresh and with dry bone, so that almost any broken skull was identified as intentionally 'cleft'. This overly enthusiatic approach was quickly and rightly criticised, but had the unfortunate corollary that researchers since that time seem to have been reluctant to re-examine this material. The fracture mechanics of bone are now reasonably well understood, with criteria for differentiating between perimortem trauma and post-depositional damage (Gurdjian et al. 1950; Kaufman et al. 1997; Ortner and Putschar 1985). This is not to say that the identification of traumatic injury on archaeological specimens is unproblematic, particularly when dealing with perimortem injuries. Nevertheless, as discussed below, a number of clear examples have been identified. The identifiation of healing or fully healed injuries is more straightforward, although what caused them is not always so clear. But while cranial trauma can on occasion happen through accident, the consensus among most researchers is that the majority of such injuries are the result of intentional violence.

Neolithic headbanging

Norton Bavant
Figure 3. Norton Bavant skull showing a healed depressed fracture, in contrast to figures 1 and 2.

         In total we have examined some 350 crania from the British Early/Middle Neolithic. Not all of these are complete, and some are 'composite' crania, i.e., two halves making a whole. This is less than ideal, but necessary when trying to calculate rates of cranial trauma in the burial population as a whole.
         The collections examined to date derive predominantly from the long barrows and Cotswold-Severn tombs of southern Britain. However, the Dinnington and Willerby Wold monuments from Yorkshire have also provided cases of both healed and unhealed cranial trauma. An investigation of regional and temporal patterning within the earlier Neolithic awaits a more complete inventory of collections outside of southern Britain. This forms the focus of ongoing research (collections in Ireland and Scotland are being investigated).
         We have identified 26 examples of cranial trauma falling into what we call 'high' and 'medium' probability categories, with an additional five examples in the 'low' probability category. Discounting the last category as too problematic, this provides an overall incidence of cranial injuries of c. 7.4%. Assuming that some of the more borderline examples are mis-diagnosed, and/or that some reflect accidents rather than intentional interpersonal violence, a figure of about 4-5% seems a reasonable first approximation. It should be emphasised that this refers to crania with evidence for traumatic injury, whether fatal or not. In a comparative anthropological perspective, this figure in itself is neither remarkably high nor remarkably low (Keeley 1996). However, as the first estimate for the incidence of interpersonal violence in the British Neolithic, it is of great importance in our understanding of an aspect of society that has hitherto received scant attention.
         In fact, only nine of the identified injuries (c. 35% of injuries, or c. 2.6% mortality through cranial injury) show no signs of healing, thus occurring at or very near the time of death. The inference is that they are either themselves the cause of that individual's death, or part of a suite of injuries suffered at the same time that led to death. In two of the clearest examples of perimortem trauma, on an adolescent from Belas Knap (Figure 1), and a probable adult female from Coldrum (Figure 2), the injuries are massive, and would have resulted in instant death. The remaining examples are healed depressed fractures (c. 65% of injuries, or c. 4.8% of the overall sample) (Figure 3). While there is generally only one healed fracture per cranium, an adult male from Fussell's Lodge shows three healed injuries to the top of the vault (Figure 4). Only a few of these injuries have been previously identified in the literature. Of those, some have been since rejected or neglected, such as Thurnam's account of cranial injuries from the Belas Knap chambered tomb.
         In terms of the demographic profile of individuals showing cranial injuries, it is at present not possible to discern much in the way of any patterning. Interestingly, males and females exhibit both healed and unhealed injuries. While an initial expectation might be that predominantly males would be involved in interpersonal conflict, both ethnographic and historic accounts show this to be too simplistic. Women do participate in violent encounters, although more frequently as victims rather than as perpetrators (Levinson 1989). Conflict in small-scale societies often takes the form of raiding and feuding, in which revenge plays a prominent motivational role (although there may often be quite different underlying reasons). In such cases, the first person of the appropriate community that is encountered by a raiding party is often the one that is attacked, regardless of their age or sex.
         With regard to the location of the injuries on the cranium, there is only a slight preference for the left side of the head (13 of 20 sided examples), as would be expected in face to face encounters between right-handed combatants. A minority of the injuries may have been inflicted on prone bodies, or from behind. This perhaps invokes images of a socially sanctioned punishment, a surprise attack, or a blow delivered to a captive unable to resist.

Fussell's Lodge
Figure 4. An adult male from Fussell's Lodge, unusually, shows three healed injuries to the top of the vault.

         The type of weapon indicated for most examples is a blunt instrument of some kind, such as a club of hard wood, antler or stone. Antler tines could produce the injuries represented by many of the healed depressed fractures. The Belas Knap adolescent shows an injury caused by an instrument with a much broader impact area, while the lozenge-shaped injury on the Coldrum adult is one of the best candidates for trauma inflicted by a stone axe. Glancing blows from projectile weapons could also cause some of the observed injuries.
         The contexts for violence in the British Neolithic at present remain poorly understood. The evidence from the causewayed enclosures of Hambledon Hill and Crickley Hill presents a scenario of large-scale conflict (Mercer 1999), probably at the level of different 'polities' rather than internal feuding. The cranial injuries on the other hand could, and most likely do, represent a variety of behaviours, ranging from inter-group conflict to domestic violence. An element of ritualised combat may also be indicated by the high incidence of healed depressed fractures. This is a form of conflict resolution and catharthis seen ethnographically in a number of small-scale agropastoral societies around the world (Turney-High 1991).
         In summary, the project has provided a good starting point into the investigation of evidence for interpersonal violence in the British Neolithic. The results already achieved are suggesting that conflict was a more pervasive feature of society at this time than previously thought. Clearly there is much more to be done. Collections from other parts of the British Isles need to be examined, and postcrania need to be brought into the picture. The present work will also form the basis for future comparisons with later periods in Britain, as well as with wider comparisons with the incidence of violence on the Continent in both the earlier and later Neolithic.

Rick J Schulting,
Archaeology and Palaeoecology,
Queen's University Belfast

Michael Wysocki,
Centre for Forensic Sciences,
University of Central Lancashire,

We would like to thank the following individuals for facilitating access to collections in their care: Maggie Bellatti and Rob Foley at the Duckworth Laboratory, Cambridge; Julien Parsons at the Cheltenham Museum and Art Gallery; Paul Robinson at the Wiltshire Heritage Museum, Devizes; Elizabeth Walker at the National Museum and Gallery of Wales, Cardiff; and Rob Kruszinski and Louise Humphrey at the Natural History Museum London. The work behind this brief report was made possible by a research grant from the Prehistoric Society (RJS) and by a Leverhulme Trust Institutional Award (MW). We gratefully acknowledge both institutions for their support.

Gurdjian, E.S., Webster, J.E. & Lissner, H.R. 1950. The Mechanism of Skull Fracture. Journal of Neurosurgery 7: 106-114.
Kaufman, M.H., Whitaker, D. & McTavish, J. 1997. Differential Diagnosis of Holes in the Calvarium: Application of Modern Clinical Data to Palaeopathology. Journal of Archaeological Science 24: 193-218.
Keeley, L.H. 1996. War Before Civilization: The Myth of the Peaceful Savage. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Levinson, D. 1989. Family Violence in Cross-Cultural Perspective. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Mercer, R.J. 1999. The Origins of Warfare in the British Isles, in J. Carman & Harding, A. (eds.), Ancient Warfare: 143-156. Stroud: Sutton.
Ortner, D.J. & Putschar, W.G.J. 1985. Identification of Pathological Conditions in Human Skeletal Remains. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution.
Piggott, S. 1954. The Neolithic Cultures of the British Isles. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Schulting, R. n.d. Neolithic clubbing, School of Archaeology and Palaeoecology, Queens University, Belfast
Thurnam, J. 1869. On Ancient British Barrows (Part I. Long Barrows). Archaeologia 42: 161-244.
Turney-High, H.H. 1991. Primitive War: Its Practice and Concepts: 3rd ed. University of South Carolina Press



Longstones Field
Figure 1. Excavated features in Longstones Field. 1999 trenches shown in dotted outline.

         In Past 34 we reported on the excavation, during 1999, of a newly-discovered Neolithic enclosure near Avebury, Wiltshire, and the rediscovery of a second megalithic avenue (the 'Beckhampton Avenue') leading from the Avebury henge. Undertaken by a team from the Universities of Leicester, Southampton and Wales (Newport) with generous funding from the AHRB, work on these monuments continued during 2000 and 2002. (Like so many projects, our plans for fieldwork during 2001 had to be curtailed due to the outbreak of foot-and-mouth.) Further sections of the avenue and enclosure were investigated, including what we believe to be the avenue's original terminal (or beginning, depending on your orientation) - a massive and largely unparalleled box-like megalithic setting known as the 'Longstones Cove'.
         Our excavations have focussed on an area 1-2 km to the south-west of Avebury near the village of Beckhampton. The sequence of Neolithic activity here is a long one, beginning with limited occupation and cultivation during the earlier 4th millennium BC, as revealed by John Evans' earlier work on the nearby South Street long barrow (Ashbee et al. 1979). This in turn was followed by the creation during the mid-4th millennium BC of the South Street barrow and the nearby Beckhampton or 'Longstones' long mound. We now know from radiocarbon dates and finds of Grooved Ware on the base of the ditch that our oval enclosure was constructed early in the later Neolithic, around 2900-2700BC. This puts it more or less contemporary with the Avebury henge enclosure (Pitts & Whittle 1992). However, the Beckhampton enclosure and Avebury henge were very different monuments. In stark contrast to the truly monumental scale of Avebury, the Beckhampton enclosure was a slight and ephemeral monument that was to leave little tangible trace in the landscape. The ditch was no more than 0.9m deep and showed no evidence of recutting. It appears to have been systematically backfilled perhaps a century or two after being dug. The circuit of the ditch was interrupted by frequent causeways, with a major entrance (of the order of 40m wide) on the east. It is highly significant that the style of the monument is more akin to earlier Neolithic causewayed enclosures than it is to contemporary henges. The enclosure's builders may deliberately have set out to create an anachronistic monument, perhaps out of respect to earlier sacred traditions, as a process of emulation, or as an intentional act of recreation.

Enclosure ditch
Figure 2. An excavated section of the enclosure ditch

         Trenches dug within the interior of the enclosure failed to reveal any prehistoric features, nor were any visible on geophysical surveys of the site undertaken by the Ancient Monuments Laboratory of English Heritage. Finds from the ditch were few. A scatter of pig, cattle and sheep bones on the base near the eastern entrance could relate to a brief episode of feasting following on from the construction of the enclosure. Other finds of bone and antler came from the base of the later backfill. Set within grazed grassland, perhaps the enclosure was visited infrequently, if at all, once constructed. In this context it was probably the act of construction that was important, rather than an intention to create a lasting statement within the landscape.
         Despite the excavation of 150m of its length (comprising 13 individual stone settings), the chronology of the avenue remains imprecise. It is almost certainly secondary to the enclosure, and may come at the end of the Neolithic sequence in the region, that is around 2500-2300BC. A further pair of stone settings was investigated during 2000, both stones having suffered the common fate of fire-setting and breaking in the early 18th century. We also explored the area immediately around one of the two surviving Longstones ('Adam'). This massive block of sarsen stone was recorded as the sole survivor of a megalithic 'box' or 'cove' by the antiquary William Stukeley; who recorded much of the avenue during a concerted period of stone destruction between 1700-1725. Our excavations showed this setting to incorporate two distinct phases. The first comprised a linear setting of three stones 40m across, forming a simple 'T-shaped' terminal to the avenue immediately to the south-west of the earlier enclosure. Two of the stones were then taken down and their sockets carefully backfilled with chalk. The central stone (set on the centre axis of the avenue) was left in place to form the south-eastern side of the cove. With splayed sides, the cove enclosed an area of c.15 x 10 m; the individual stones standing 2.5-3.5 m above ground and weighing up to 60 tonnes each. Unfortunately, all the stone sockets had been extensively disturbed during the phase of stone destruction recorded by Stukeley, but sufficient survived of one to show that the stones were held in place by a packing of small sarsen boulders. From the stone sockets and fills of later destruction pits came several thousand of pieces of worked flint, much of it debitage from rather ad hoc working.
         Almost invariably associated with henges and stone circles, cove settings are known elsewhere, for example at Stanton Drew in Somerset, Mount Pleasant in Dorset, and locally within the Avebury henge (Burl 1988). However, none of these approach the scale of the Longstones Cove, nor do they form 'closed' four-sided settings of this kind. The Longstones Cove might, as Burl has suggested for others, reference the format of earlier megalithic burial chambers (ibid., 7). Alternatively, its closed format could have drawn upon memory of the earlier enclosure - a transformation from earth to stone that would parallel the lithic conversion of certain late Neolithic wooden monuments, such as the Sanctuary at the end of the West Kennet Avenue. Either way, themes of time, transformation and a desire to make reference to the past, seem to be deeply implicated in the Beckhampton monuments.

Figure 3. Stone sockets and later destruction pits of the Cove under excavation. The one remaining stone ('Adam') in the background.

         In tracking the course of the Beckhampton Avenue from Avebury to Longstones Field, Stukeley's observations have proved extremely reliable. He was convinced that the avenue continued beyond Longstones Field to the south-west, eventually terminating on a low hill at Fox Covert ('a most solemn and awful place': Stukeley 1743, 36). His projected course seemed to be supported by the discovery in 1968 of a large sarsen buried in a pit alongside the present A4 (Anon 1969, 127). Wishing to confirm or refute this south-western extension of the avenue, we returned to the field during Easter 2002. We were again aided by a geophysical survey undertaken by the Ancient Monuments Laboratory. However, this and another geophysical survey further along the projected line failed to detect any buried stones or stone destruction pits. Excavation likewise drew a blank. Did the avenue really extend this far? We think not. Re-analysis of Stukeley's field notes suggests his identification of this stretch of the avenue was based on the presence of only a small number of recumbent stones, all of which could be naturally occurring sarsens. His records for this section were clearly quite speculative. Technically the case is 'not proven' and many ambiguities remain. However, our opinion would favour a termination of the avenue in Longstones Field, at or just beyond the cove. From the end of one avenue to the end of the other, this makes Avebury an impressive 4km long.

Mark Gillings,
University of Leicester

Joshua Pollard and Rick Peterson
University of Wales College,

Dave Wheatley,
University of Southampton

Anon 1969. Excavation and Fieldwork in Wiltshire, 1968. Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine 64, 123-9
Ashbee, P., Smith, I. & Evans, J. 1979. Excavation of three long barrows near Avebury, Wiltshire. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 45, 207-300
Burl, A. 1988. Coves: structural enigmas of the Neolithic. Wiltshire Archaeological & Natural History Magazine 82, 1-18
Pitts, M. & Whittle, A. 1992. The development and date of Avebury. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 58, 213-212
Stukeley, W. 1743. Avebury: a Temple of the British Druids. London



        At the fiftieth birthday AGM of the Society in 1985, Bob Chapman raised several questions for future editors to ponder when they select articles for inclusion in our Proceedings (Chapman 1985, 27). In particular, he repeated Graham Clark's concerns that "the proportion of later prehistoric papers, particularly on the Bronze and Iron Ages, had increased at the expense of papers dealing with the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic" (Clark, 1959), and he queried whether the tendency in Vols 46-50 to concentrate on British sites would result in a reduction in overseas interest in PPS. Seventeen years on, it may be instructive look again at the contents of recent PPS volumes and try to find some indicators of the impact that these volumes have had on the archaeological community, both in the UK and abroad.

Balance between Early and Later Prehistory
        Whereas Vol.s 46-50 had 9.5 Palaeo/Meso papers (ie 15% overall), Vol. 51-65 contained 46 (which increased the overall percentage to 19%) and over 50% were on non-British sites. Whilst this change was largely the result of devoting the entirety of Vol. 57.1 to Palaeolithic Art, we do seem to have a better balance of both geography and period.

UK Perceptions
        Looking for a barometer of how PPS is perceived in the UK, I selected the volume 'The Archaeology of Britain', , (ed. Hunter and Ralston, 1999), as it "provides a one-stop textbook for the entire archaeology of Britain and reflects the most recent developments in archaeology" (their words!). From the 160 references from the eight authors of its seven prehistoric chapters we find that:-

  • PPS is the most cited, with 21 references, constituting 51% of all journals and 13% of all citations,
  • The next most popular journal is Antiquity (11 refs), followed by Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, of Scotland (5)
  • Of the books from commercial publishers, Batsford volumes had 18 citations, followed by British Archaeological Reports (14 references), British Museum (10) and English Heritage/HSMO (9), Duckworth (7) and Oxbow (6)
  • University publications from Cambridge (16 refs), Oxford (10) and Sheffield (7) also featured.

Thus we can confirm that our Proceedings occupy a central place in this undergraduate textbook, with the largest number of citations.
         In their preface (written in1997), the authors declare their intent to review advances over the last twenty years. This goal is reflected in the dates of the PPS references, where only 16% are pre-1975, 24% are 1975-84, 16% are 1985-90 and 44% are 1990-7. The years 1992 and 1994 were the most frequently cited volumes (32% of all PPS references), so our editors clearly are producing volumes which continue to have a direct impact.
         In the light of the earlier concerns about the reduced frequency of Palaeolithic/Mesolithic articles in PPS, it is worthwhile to look at the spread of PPS citations across periods. The breakdown is 38% Upper Palaeolithic/Mesolithic, 29% Neolithic, 24% Bronze Age and 9% Iron Age. Regardless of the possible reasons for this spread, it does provide comfort to those members who, like Clark, see the earlier period as being a prime business of prehistorians to study.

Continental Perceptions
        Using a similar approach, I've examined the Societé Prehistorique Française volume on Bronze Age sites excavated along the TGV rail routes in the Pas-de-Calais for citations of English articles (Blanchet, 2000). In this volume, some 16 authors cited 216 references in eight articles. This revealed that 31 references (14% of all) were to British periodicals. From this group, 18 (58%) were from PPS and 8 (25%) were from Current Archaeology and all these references were to English sites. Of the 83 citations to French journals, the most frequently cited were papers from the Bulletin de la Societé Prehistorique Française, with 18 articles.
         Thus, taking a random volume from my bookcase, it is heartening to find that papers from PPS feature as prominently as those from the most cited French national journal.
         When the dates of the references to the two main English journals are studied, pre-1976 accounts for 38%, 1976-85 for 46%, 1986-90 for 15%, post-1990 nil, whereas the French language citations tend to be more up-to-date, pre-1976 23%, 1976-85 23%, 1986-95 46% and 1996-2000 8%. From which, we could speculate that it is simply more difficult to keep up-to-date with foreign language articles: (NB when English authors write in French (ie Burgess 1996), it gets cited faster), or if it takes 10-15 years before an own-language paper becomes most readily quoted, then perhaps an extra 5 years to cross a language barrier isn't too surprising, or perhaps it takes 10 years to get PPS to France in the UK mail!
         In a final check, European subjects were found to constitute 26% of the main articles in volumes 56-65 of PPS, which is an improvement on the low point of 16% evident in volumes 46-55. Though our Editor, Julie Gardiner, is dependant on the articles submitted, we hope that PPS continues to receive sufficient submissions to ensure that the delicate balance of periods and of British vs non-British papers can be maintained into the future.

John Cruse,

Blanchet J-Cl, 2000, 'Habitats et Necropoles a l'Age du Bronze sur le Transmanche et le TGV Nord', Societé Prehistorique Française, Travaux I.
Burgess C, 1996, 'Urns, Culture du Wessex et la transition Bronze ancient-Bronze moyen en Grande-Bretagne' in Actes du 117e Congrès National des Societés Savantes (Clermont-Ferrand, 1992). C.T.H.S., p605-621
Chapman R, 1985 "The Prehistoric Society, Prehistory and Society", Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, 51, 15-29
Clark, JGD, 1959, "Presidential Address, Perspectives in Prehistory", Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 25, 1-14
Hunter J and Ralston I, 1999, "The Archaeology of Britain" Routledge, London



        Forty or more members of the Prehistoric Society gathered at the historic house that is Dilliington, set amongst its formal gardens and Somerset farmland. The event opened with Dr Roger Jacobi of the British Museum, who gave a rumbustious doorway into the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic eras of over 500,000 years which was going to envelop us for the next 48 hours. He explored why no hominid presence had been found in the UK between 130,000 and 60,000 BP although evidence had been found in France and Northern Europe. Boxgrove it seems it not the oldest evidence of hominids in UK - Wesbury and East Anglia show hominid presence some 200,000 earlier at 700,000 BP.
         Next morning after a hearty breakfast (Dillington is renowned for its food) Dr Paul Pettitt discussed the life, times and extinction of Neanderthals . He paid attention to the nearby Axe Valley which stretches from Wookey (and its famous hole and abundance evidence of prehistoric usage) and Western Super Mare, exploring the relationship between the distance they could see from the high plateaux and the distribution of stone tools in relationship the source material and their use of the landscape. Then around 30,000 BP Cro-Magnons came to the UK … Later in the day Dr Mike Richards discussed work he was undertaking to determine diet. Twenty per cent of our bone is collagen which leaves a signature of the food we eat. Neanderthals were super carnivores dispelling the myth that they scavenged meat - they were successful hunters for 100,000 years. Could this be a reason for their demise -unable to adapt their diet ? Whilst this was a Palaeolithic and Mesolithic weekend, Mike did stray into the Neolithic. In the Western Isles there is evidence of a predominantly marine and fish diet, but within 100 years as the Neolithic age was ushered in there was a dramatic change to meat eating.
         Dr Andy Currant highlighted the massive swings in temperature over the last 500,000 years in the Mendips. This in turn gave great diversity to the animals that came and went during that time - and with animals such as a monster sized bear in England around 130,000-60,000BP is it perhaps surprising that there were no humans ? As almost a throwaway line he spoke of finding Siber antelope remains and discussed what had happened around 12,000BP to drive them out of their usual habitat of Russia and Alaska and into England.
         Dr Chantal Conneller braved the first slot after an excellent lunch and talked about Star Carr in the Vale of Pickering and the excellent preservation found and interesting finds of the 21 deer antler (frontlets) that had been adapted to be worn as headdresses. Dr Paula Gardiner spoke of the finding and exploring of Totty's Pot (and of how the site got its name) a swallett hole (fissure) that held human remains dating to 7541-7086 BC.
         Chris Norman gave an insight into flint tools with an extensive number of slides and finds he himself had found during is work in the low lying Somerset levels. Roger Jacobi spoke of his work at the hyaena den at Wookey and Susan Palmer of her work and struggles to preserve the Mesolithic site of Culverwell on Portland - to set the scene for the forthcoming field trips
         My apologies to all the speakers as space does not allow me to report all their presentations; my sympathy to those who did not attend as they missed an excellent event; yy thanks to Wayne Bennett and all at Dillington House for comfortable, cosy accommodation, excellent food and good service.

Valerie A Moore,
Council Member



        The Later Iron Age Research Seminar, which followed a similar meeting on the earlier Iron Age in December 2001, provided an opportunity for archaeologists working on the subject to consider some of the issues and challenges set out in the Prehistoric Society's recent report, Understanding the Iron Age: an agenda for action. Historically, the later Iron Age has tended to receive more attention than the earlier part of the period, partly because the evidence itself is so much more abundant, and partly because of the striking changes that occurred in south-east England in the period immediately before the Roman conquest. The Research Seminar provided an opportunity to move on beyond the South-East and examine change in other areas such as south Wales and the Marches; East Anglia and the Fens, and the north of Scotland and Ireland. Papers that did focus on southern Britain showed how a range of sites and artefacts which have been thought of as 'typical' of the later Iron Age can now be re-interpreted to reveal more complex social and cultural patterns. The deliberate chronological emphasis on the 'later' Iron Age (from c.400BC-AD100 and beyond) rather than on discrete 'middle' and 'late' Iron Ages helped make the point that the idea of these as distinct entities has limited meaning beyond south east England, whilst at the same time bringing the long time scale of many key processes of change in Britain during the later first millennium into sharper focus.
         Twenty-three papers and two posters were presented, allowing discussion of a wide range of approaches. In the first session, 'Moving settlements', papers by JD Hill, Tom Moore, David Knight and Mark Corney showed how familiar landscapes and developments can be viewed in radically new ways, leading to very different interpretations of social change from those that now dominate our interpretations. Stewart Bryant then revealed the importance of the visual landscape in the later Iron Age - an issue that surfaced in several papers - and went on to explore possible similarities between major centres in south east England and in Ireland. The character of the northern Irish material was further discussed in a wide-ranging paper by Ian Armit (ably read on his behalf by Caroline Russell, as Ian was in Belfast celebrating the birth of his first child!).
         The second session, 'New ways of living and dying', examined social change through different aspects of people's lifestyles. John Barrett identified the many theoretical problems in examining Iron Age society and the tensions between the agent and structures as forces of change. Leo Webley then showed how the changing form of the household in Denmark was reflected in settlement architecture, whilst Keith Dobney and Umberto Arbarella examined links between diet and social identity. Contrastingly, Gilly Carr argued that apparently major changes, such as that from excarnation to cremation, might in fact mark a less radical break. Peter Wells ended the day with a wider perspective of change and communication in northern Europe, once again reminding us not to view Britain in isolation.
         The first session on the Saturday morning, 'Different later Iron Ages', afforded a view of the diversity of changes in society underway in later Iron Age Britain. The recent growth in the quantity of available evidence as a result of excavation, aerial reconnaissance and stray finds was apparent in several of the papers, such as those on south Wales (Adam Gwilt) and the upper Thames Valley (Gill Hey). The success of these papers was in using this material to re-construct living societies; Andy Wigley showing the social implications for the development of enclosures in the Welsh Marches, Chris Evans the complex social and economic relationships between settlements in the fens, and Mel Giles the construction of the household in Yorkshire. JD Hill's discussion of the recent Winchester Hoard and the poster paper on other new finds by Sally Worrell allowed participants to express their support for the Portable Antiquities scheme, which has quickly proved its potential for Iron Age studies.
         The extent to which the more prolific later Iron Age artefact record reflects changing ritual practices - a theme also taken up in Imogen Wellington's poster paper on votive sites in northern France - provided a link to the last session, 'Artefacts and Identity', in which a series of papers examined the role of material culture and landscapes in expressing identities. Andy Heald looked at the role of metalworking in this process, whilst Fraser Hunter and Natasha Hutcheson showed how similar artefacts could be manipulated quite differently in different contexts to construct identity. Andy Fitzpatrick then discussed the use of colour on artefacts, again emphasising the visual nature of the period. Two papers from Nico Roymans and Fokke Gerritsen rounded off proceedings by showing how during the Iron Age the landscape was used to construct identities on a variety of scales in the Netherlands, providing a European perspective on many of the issues raised by earlier speakers.
         The recent success of later Iron Age archaeologists in combining data on a variety of scales, from the household to the wider community, to construct complex narratives of change was one of the recurrent features of the seminar. This emphasis reflected the concerns of the previous seminar in December in addressing the tensions between local level interpretation and regional narratives. The vitality of research and the variety of theoretical and methodological approaches currently in evidence throughout Britain and Ireland was particularly heartening, and cannot but lead in due course to a more sophisticated understanding of Iron Age societies. The proceedings are to be published.

Tom Moore and Colin Haselgrove
Dept. of Archaeology,
University of Durham



Baguley Award
The president, Prof. Barker, presenting the Baguley award for the best article in the 2001 volume of the society's Proceedings

Europa Prize
Lady Molly Clark presented the Europa prize to Prof. Wil Roebroeks

The Baguley Award
         The 2001 Baguley award went to D.G.Buckley, J.D.Hedges, and N.Brown for 'Excavations at a Neolithic Cursus, Springfield, Essex, 1979-1985. It was presented at our May meeting shortly before the Europa lecture.

The Europa Prize
         The Europa prize recipent was Prof. Wil Roebroeks of Leiden University, Netherlands, who gave a broad ranging lecture on the European Lower Palaeolithic.

Grants and Funding
         Remember that the society also makes individual grants from the following: Research Fund, Conference Fund and the John and Bryony Coles Bursary (Student Travel Award). In all cases the deadline is January the first and full details are available at the society website.

Book Reviews
         There is a new section of the website devoted to book reviews. Books for review can be sent to Dr MacNabb, Dept. of Archaeology, Southampton University and he is also looking for reviewers.



        Rhys Jones, the most charismatic of prehistorians of Australia, died in Canberra, 19 September 2001, just a few weeks after his retirement from Australian National University. He was buried in Bungendore with fitting ceremony, in a high grassy valley that echoes the upland of, say Breconshire. Rhys was a Welshman to his patriotic heart, as well as a naturalized Australian, and he planned with his retirement to start working also from the new archaeology department at the University of Wales in Newport; but that was not to be.
         A day-meeting - called 'Rhys' Day' - near the first anniversary of his death, is being held as an occasion to say good-bye, to remember, to celebrate his life and his liveliness, by something in the Rhys style - a gathering of researchers to report and discuss new work, some of it by old colleagues, but equally some of it by researchers of the young generation whether they knew Rhys or not. It is organized as a joint venture by the Prehistorics and the Antiquaries, and is to be at the Society of Antiquaries, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1 on Saturday 21 September 2002 from 9.30 to 6.30. It has a sparkling programme of research papers by a strong team on varied Rhys-ian subjects, much of them concerned with the prehistory of Wales and Australia. Everyone welcome, whether they knew Rhys themselves or not.

For more information contact

Stephen Aldhouse-Green,
SCARAB Research Centre,
University of Wales College Newport,
Caerleon Campus,
PO Box 179,
Newport NP18 3YG,


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