ABSTRACTS, VOLUME 69, 2003
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in French, German
In 1998 a circle of timber posts within the intertidal zone on the
north Norfolk coast was brought to the attention of the Norfolk County
Council Archaeological Service. A subsequent programme of archaeological
recording and dating revealed that the structure was constructed in
the spring or early summer of 2049 BC, during the Early Bronze Age.
Because of the perceived threat of damage and erosion from the sea a
rescue excavation was undertaken during the summer months of 1999. The
structure was entirely excavated, involving the removal of the timbers
and a programme of stratigraphic recording and environmental analysis.
A survey was also undertaken within the environs of the site which has
identified further timber structures dating from the Bronze Age. Detailed
examination of the timber from the circle has produced a wealth of unexpected
information which has added greatly to our understanding of Early Bronze
Age woodworking, organisation of labour and the layout and construction
of timber ritual monuments.
For the last 50 years the site of Star Carr
has retained a role of considerable importance within Mesolithic studies.
Recent archaeological and palaeoenvironmental survey of the Vale of
Pickering (Schadla-Hall 1987; 1988; 1989; Lane & Schadla-Hall forthcoming)
permits an understanding of the regional context of Star Carr and indicates
the site itself now needs to be re-evaluated. This paper will focus
on the lithic evidence recovered during the recent excavations and field
survey in order to explore the nature of peoples’ engagement with
the landscape of the Vale of Pickering during the Early Mesolithic.
A small panel of mobiliary rock art containing
two cup-mark motifs discovered in north Pembrokeshire in August 2002
is described and compared with other finds of rock art from Wales. Although
the sites with passage-grave style rock art in north Wales are well-known,
the more widespread yet less impressive cup-mark dominated panels found
mainly around the upland fringes of the country have received relatively
little attention. A provisional corpus of 33 rock-art sites comprising
more than 37 panels is provided.
A small-scale exacavation, undertaken in advance of building works
at Faraday Road, Newbury, Berkshire, encountered an apparently intact
Early Mesolithic layer containing abundant worked flint directly associated
with animal bones. The site lay on the floodplain of the River Kennet
in an area already well-known for Mesolithic remains and certainly represents
an extension of the site found at nearby Greenham Dairy Farm in 1963.
The flint asemblage was dominated by obliquely-blunted microlithic forms
accompanied by a restricted range of other items. The animal bones were,
unusually, dominated by wild pig with clear evidence of both primary
butchery and food waste. Spatial analysis of the bone and flint assemblages
indicated discrete activity areas, possibly associated with hearths.
Both pollen and molluscan data were recovered which, together with the
results of soil micromorphological examination, confirmed an Early Holocene
date for the formation of the Mesolithic layer. Radiocarbon dates place
the site in the late 10th–early 9th millennium BP. The paper re-examines
the nature of known Early Mesolithic activity in this part of the Kennet
valley, with particular reference to the specific environmental conditions
that seem to have prevailed. It is concluded that the Faraday Road site
represents one part of a continuum of Early Mesolithic occupation that
stretches along a considerable length of the floodplain, with each focus
of activity witnessing repeated, but intermittent, occupation spanning
a period of more than a millennium.
Palaeo-environmental Investigations of the Upper Allen Valley, Cranborne
Chase, Dorset (1998–2000): a New Model of Earlier Holocene Landscape
A combination of on- and off-site palaeo-environmental and archaeological
investigations of the upper Allen valley of Dorset conducted in 1998–2000
has begun to reveal a different model of landscape development than
those previously put forward. A combination of off-site geoarchaeological
and aerial photographic survey and palynological analyses of two relict
palaeochannel systems, and sample investigations of four Bronze Age
round barrows and a Neolithic enclosure, have been combined with inter-regional
summaries of the archaeological and molluscan records to re-examine
the prehistoric landscape dynamics in the study area. Preliminary results
suggest that woodland development in the earlier Holocene appears to
have been more patchy than the presumed model of full climax deciduous
woodland. With open areas still present in the Mesolithic, the area
witnessed its first exploitation of the chalk downs, thus slowing and
altering soil development of the downlands. Consequently, many areas
perhaps never developed thick, well structured, clay-enriched soils
(or argillic brown earths), but rather thin brown earths. By the later
Neolithic these under-developed soils had become thin rendzinas, largely
as a consequence of human exploitation. The presence of thinner and
less well-developed soils over large areas of downland removes the necessity
for envisaging extensive soil erosion and thick aggraded deposits in
the valley bottom in later prehistory. The investigations have suggested
that, if there were major changes in vegetation and soil complexes,
these had already occurred by the Neolithic rather than in the Bronze
Age as suggested by previous researchers, and the area has remained
relatively stable since.
This paper presents the results of the first investigation of vegetation
change and human activity from a river valley west of the Somerset Levels.
The record is contrasted with the pollen and archaeological record from
South West uplands (Dartmoor and Exmoor) and the Somerset Levels. Vegetation
change and archaeological evidence are shown to be generally consistent,
with evidence from the middle valley of Mesolithic vegetation disturbance
(with nearby lithics), Neolithic clearance of terraces and slopes in
the lower valley and Neolithic-Bronze Age ceremonial and domestic activity,
but in the upper reach the maintenance of wooded valley floor conditions
probably with management until historic times. The valley floor and
surrounding slope vegetation history is found to be significantly different
to that of the uplands with lime and elm being significant components
of the prehistoric woodland record. The data suggest that lime is restricted
to terraces and lowlands below 200 metres OD throughout the prehistoric
period. The pollen data from the valley suggests the lowlands had a
rich and mixed ecology providing a wide range of resources and that,
despite less visible archaeological remains, human activity is manifest
through palynological evidence from the Mesolithic to the Bronze Age.
The largest expanse of valley-floor terrace, the Nether Exe Basin, which
was at least partially deforested in the early Neolithic contains a
rich assemblage of Neolithic-Bronze Age ceremonial, funerary and domestic
archaeology associated with an early and clear palynological record
of woodland clearance, arable and pastoral activity.
Within the large scale prehistoric landscape under investigation at
Bestwall Quarry, Wareham, a Middle Bronze Age house and burnt mound
were excavated in 2001. The house was succeeded by the burnt mound which
was associated with two large pits. All the structures were associated
with a substantial and well-preserved assemblage of Deverel-Rimbury
pottery. Most of this pottery, and two copper alloy bracelets, also
of Middle Bronze Age date, comprised remarkable closing deposits that
marked the abandonment of the structures.
Initial compilation of a digital record of petrological thin-sections
prepared from ceramics found in the United Kingdom, the English Heritage
UKTS database, was completed in 1994. This paper was commissioned by
English Heritage as one of a series of period studies designed to synthesise
and review the contents of the database. From the total of c. 20,000
thin-sections recorded, c. 5500 (28%) relate to prehistoric pottery.
Within the prehistoric entries, coverage varies both by period and by
region. The main results are summarised by region, and a series of general
discussion points are highlighted. The themes of technology, production,
and exchange, the movement of pottery in the earlier prehistoric period,
and the potential symbolic significance of inclusions such as rock,
bone, and grog are all considered. Finally, recommendations for the
minimum standardisation of petrological reports on prehistoric ceramics,
and for further research, are outlined.
The ancestry of the long mound has long been a key
focus in debates on the origins of monumental and megalithic architectures
in western France. Typological schemes and absolute dates have alike
been invoked in support of different models of monument development,
but with limited success. Recent excavations at Prissé-la-Charrière,
a 100-metre long mound in the Poitou-Charentes region, have emphasised
the importance of internal structure and the complex process of modification
and accretion by which many long mounds
achieved their final form and dimensions. Excavations have revealed
an early megalithic chamber in a dry-stone rotunda, that was progressively
incorporated in a short long mound, then in the 100 m long mound we
see today, which contains at least two further chamber tombs. The wide
range of monument forms present in western and northern France during
the 5th millennium BC suggests that the issue of monument origins must
be viewed in a broad inter-regional perspective, within which a number
of individual elements could be combined in a variety of different ways.
Consideration of seven specific elements, including the shape of the
mound, the position and accessibility of the chamber, and the significance
of above-ground tomb chambers as opposed to graves or pits leads us
to propose a polygenic model for the origins of the long mounds and
related monuments of western France.
The Middle Palaeolithic site of Karabi Tamchin is
presented here for the first time. Karabi Tamchin is a collapsed rock-shelter
in Eastern Crimea (Ukraine), and is the only known, stratified Palaeolithic
site in the highland regions of the First Crimean mountain range. Preliminary
results of three excavation seasons indicate that the site differs fundamentally
from Middle Palaeolithic sites excavated at lower altitudes, in terms
of both lithic and faunal exploitation. The site, therefore, provides
essential information regarding regional land-use patterns in Crimea.
Karabi Tamchin was probably repeatedly occupied by relatively small,
mobile groups during short-term, possibly seasonal hunting forays into
The well-known Palaeolithic site at Cuxton, Kent
is situated on a remnant of Pleistocene terrace deposits of the Medway
that have been known as a source of Palaeolithic artefacts since at
least 1889, and have been the subject of two controlled excavations.
The excavations produced a total of 878 stratified artefacts, including
206 handaxes, whose character was described by Tester (1965, 38) as
being dominated by 'roughly made, pointed hand-axes with thick, crust
covered butts', with some ovates and cleavers, and by Roe (1968), who
placed the assemblage in his Pointed Tradition, Group I (with cleavers).
The character of the Cuxton handaxe assemblage is therefore well established,
but recently it has gained new importance in relation to a debate concerning
the significance of variation in handaxe form (eg, Ashton & McNabb
1994; White 1998; Wenban-Smith et al., 2000).
In late February and early March 2002, an archaeological watching brief at Lynford Quarry, Mundford, Norfolk revealed a palaeochannel with a dark organic fill containing in situ mammoth remains and associated Mousterian stone tools and debitage buried under 2–3 m of bedded sands and gravels. Well-preserved in situ Middle Palaeolithic open air sites are very unusal in Europe and exceedingly rare within a British context. As such, the site was identified as being of national and international importance, and was subsequently excavated by the Norfolk Archaeological Unit. Full analysis of the results are pending and this report presents some of the initial results of the excavation. It sets out how the site was excavated, outlines the stratigraphic sequence for the site, and presents some provisional findings of the excavation based on the results of the assessment work carried out to date.
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