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Beaker Settlement and Environment on the Chalk Downs of Southern England
by Michael J. Allen

The Beaker period in north-west Europe abounds with objects, burials, and monuments, but evidence of settlement and domestic life is often absent or less easily found. England is no exception. Despite the thousands of barrows with rich artefacts assemblages (eg, ‘Amesbury Archer’) and the numerous pits with non-domestic assemblages of placed items, evidence for houses and settlement are sparse despite the indication of increased agriculture and sedentism. This paper explores this problem on the chalklands of southern England which are rich in Beaker finds, and generally recognised as one of the best studied and well understood landscapes in Europe. From this study it is suggested that Beaker domestic sites are present, but are often in low-land positions on the chalk downs and have subsequently by buried by variable depths of hillwash, making them invisible to normal archaeological survey and reconnaissance.

Excavations at the Lower Palaeolithic site at Elveden, Suffolk, UK
by Nick Ashton, Simon Lewis, Simon Parfitt, Ian Candy, David Keen, Rob Kemp, Kirsty Penkman, Gill Thomas, John Whittaker & Mark White

The Lower Palaeolithic site at Elveden, Suffolk, was the subject of new excavations from 1995–1999. Excavations around the edge and in the centre of the former clay-pit revealed sediments infilling a lake basin that had formed in Lowestoft till, overlying Chalk, the till being attributed to the Anglian glaciation (MIS 12). The lake sediments contain pollen that can be assigned to pollen zones HoI and HoIIa of the early Hoxnian (MIS 11). Overlying grey clays contain ostracods, molluscs, vertebrates, and carbonate concretions. Together they are indicative of a fluvial environment in a temperate climate. AAR ratios (amino acid racemisation) on the molluscs also suggest correlation with MIS 11. Further indications of a fluvial context are indicated by thin spreads of lag gravel along opposite sides of the clay-pit, marking the edges of a channel. The gravel forms the raw material for the human industries which consist of handaxes, flake tools, flakes, and cores. Further artefacts are found in the overlying black clay, which is interpreted as a palaeosol that formed with the silting-up of the channel. The basin was further infilled with colluvial ‘brickearths’, which also contain artefacts that are probably derived from the underlying gravel. Further evidence of soil formation was identified in the ‘brickearth’. Coversands with periglacial involutions overlie the ‘brickearth’ at the top of the sequence. These probably formed in the last cold stage, the Devensian.

Croft Moraig and the Chronology of Stone Circles
by Richard Bradley & Alison Sheridan

The Perthshire stone circle of Croft Moraig was excavated 40 years ago and is usually taken to illustrate the classic sequence at such monuments in Britain. A timber setting, accompanied by a shallow ditch, was replaced by two successive stone settings. The pottery associated with the earliest construction was dated to the Neolithic period. A new analysis of the excavated material suggests that, in fact, the ceramics are Middle or Late Bronze Age. They provide a terminus post quem for at least one of the stone settings on the site. Further study of the evidence suggests an alternative sequence of construction at Croft Moraig, involving a change in the axis of the monument. It seems possible that other stone and timber circles were equally late in date and that their period of use in Britain and Ireland may have been longer than is generally supposed.

Rethinking the ‘Cursus Problem’ – Investigating the Neolithic Landscape Archaeology of Rudston, East Yorkshire, UK, using GIS
by Henry P. Chapman

In terms of their interpretation, cursus monuments remain arguably the most enigmatic class of Neolithic landscape monument. This paper reconsiders this ‘cursus problem’ through the study of the complex of cursuses that surrounds the village of Rudston, East Yorkshire. Using a GIS-based analysis, it is argued that two distinct forms of architecture can be recognised. In the earlier phase it is possible to recognise the importance of somatic experience generated through movement along the interior of the monuments, incorporating elements of visual surprise in addition to constant visual relationships with earlier monuments. By the later phase, somatic experience becomes less important, with the cursus forming a more naturalised role in harmony with the natural landscape and less structured for movement. The results of this analysis have wider implications for the study of both cursus landscapes elsewhere and prehistoric landscape archaeology more generally.

The Cronk yn How Stone and the Rock Art of the Isle of Man
by Timothy Darvill & Blaze O'Connor

Reappraisal of an early 20th century excavation at the Cronk yn How round barrow near Ramsey in the Isle of Man suggests that a stone pair was demolished during the 3rd millennium BC to make way for a round barrow with a single central burial. It is suggested that one of the stones from the original pair was decorated with a series of motifs before being incorporated into the barrow. Some of the motifs used find parallels amongst later Neolithic incised rock art on the walls of tombs and houses, and on stone plaques. Other motifs, including what appear to be representations of deer, serve to expand the repertoire of known designs and highlight the potential of this kind of this rather understudied category of rock art. Parallels for the zoomorphic motifs can be found in Scandinavia. A review of other rock art within the Isle of Man revealed more than 70 recorded panels at 55 individual sites making this one of the more densely populated rock art landscapes in the west of Britain. Two main styles are represented, the passage-grave style, which includes the Cronk yn How Stone, and the cup-mark dominated style, or Galician Style. The latter accounts for more 95% of recorded sites which accords well with what is known of the Isle of Man’s cultural relationships during the 4th and 3rd millennia BC.

Pit Clusters and the Temporality of Occupation: an Earlier Neolithic Site at Kilverstone, Thetford, Norfolk
by Duncan Garrow, Emma Beadsmoore & Mark Knight

This paper discusses 226 earlier Neolithic pits found at Kilverstone in Norfolk. In particular, it focuses on the dynamics involved in the site’s creation, investigating what had happened to the material found in the pits prior to deposition, and exploring the material connections (refitting sherds and flints) across the site. As a result of these material insights, it proved possible to shed important light on the character of that place in particular, and on the temporality of Neolithic deposition and occupation in general.

‘At the Edge of the World ...’ Hominid colonisation and the Lower and Middle Palaeolithic of the West Midlands
by A.T.O. Lang & D.H. Keen

The recognition over the last 20 years, that the Quaternary deposits of the West Midlands cover a longer period of time than previously envisaged has led to a re-analysis of their contained Palaeolithic archaeology. Stone tools have been found in the region for over a hundred years and cover most periods of hominid colonisation from the time of the earliest occupants of the country over half a million years ago. Twentieth century research in the West Midlands, often led by Professor F.W. Shotton at the University of Birmingham, correlated the Palaeolithic of the region with the Quaternary geological sequence as it was then understood. Shotton identified the ‘Wolstonian’ glaciation as the key event of the Midlands Pleistocene, around which a chronology for the Palaeolithic could be built and gave an age of less than 250 kyr for this episode. Work since 1985 has compared the Midlands sequence with the oxygen isotope record of the ocean basins and shown that the concept of a relatively recent ‘Wolstonian’ is now untenable and that the former chronology built around it is too short for the observed events in the area. This new time paradigm, with the earliest occupation of the area thought to be c. 500 kyr, has made necessary a reconsideration of the chronology of the Palaeolithic and Middle Pleistocene of the area. This new time framework brings into critical focus the issue of reworking of the archaeology and its true age. The tools themselves present complications of analysis compared to many other areas containing a Palaeolithic record, perhaps most notably through the use of largely non-flint raw materials, some which may have been introduced into the area by early humans or an hither-to unidentified glacial event. This opportunity to present a new chronology of occupation comes out of the work carried out by the ‘Shotton Project’ based at the University of Birmingham, and by the University of Liverpool.

Life by the River : a Prehistoric Landscape at Grendon, Northamptonshire
by Jonathan Last

This paper describes the development of a prehistoric landscape by the river Nene at Grendon Lakes, partly revealed in the 1970s and partly during excavations in 1998 and 2001, which are reported in full. Two major phases of archaeological activity are evident, one interpreted as Neolithic–Early Bronze Age, the other as Iron Age. The gap between these is bridged by an environmental sequence reconstructed with the aid of a pollen core from an adjacent palaeochannel, which shows that human activity continued in the intervening period. The landscape is comparable in form, though not in scale, with that investigated 13 km downstream at Raunds, and helps shed light on the distinctive features of Midlands river valleys like the Nene in prehistory. In conclusion it is suggested that the different characters of the Neolithic and Iron Age features at Grendon mask some underlying similarities in the way they structured people’s movements and encounters.

Landscape, Memory and Material Culture: Interpreting Diversity in the Iron Age
by Helen L. Loney & Andrew W. Hoaen

Landscape studies offer the archaeologist a way to move towards the holistic integration of disparate aspects of research, such as excavation, survey, and specialist analysis. Because landscape perception is socially constructed, like other forms of material culture, it is possible to approach social behaviour in a way in which previously was only argued for portable artefacts. Memory studies have allowed historians, anthropologists, and archaeologists to link observable human behaviour with long-term human thought. Memory is also being used as a way of linking the otherwise invisible mind with the material by-products of society, such as monumental architecture. This paper will investigate how two contemporaneous settlements of Late Iron Age peoples, situated on the northern shores of Lake Ullswater, in the Lake District, Cumbria, manipulated their material landscapes as part of the process of transmitting cultural memories. Further, this information will be used in order to find a way of approaching the similarities of their cultural practices with each other and with the wider Iron Age community of Britain.

Property Relations in the Bronze Age of South-western Europe: an Archaeological Analysis of Infant Burials from El Argar (Almeria, Spain)
By Vicente Lull, Rafael Micó Pérez, Cristina Rihuete Herrada & Roberto Risch

Political and economic organisation of Argaric society has been one of the most interesting research topics among Iberian Prehistory. Recent debate has focused upon how to define and assess the socio-economic differentiation which is characteristic of Argaric communities, as well as the suitability of the term ‘State’ when approaching those differences at the political level. Arguments for and against it have been mainly drawn from the Argaric funerary record (2250–1550 cal BC). This paper attempts to approach this issue through the analysis of grave-goods associated with infant tombs. Our main goal is to ascertain if Argaric society established rules concerning asymmetric consumption of goods through infant funerary rituals. If so, this will allow us to infer relevant differences affecting the property of various elements involved in social production.

Spatial Relationships, Dating and Taphonomy of the Human Bone from the Mesolithic site of Cnoc Coig, Oronsay, Argyll, Scotland
by Christopher Meiklejohn, Deborah C. Merrett, Richard W. Nolan, Michael P. Richards & Paul A. Mellars

This paper examines the spatial distribution of the human bone sample excavated from the Mesolithic shell midden site of Cnoc Coig on Oronsay in the Inner Hebrides, Scotland. Although no burials were recovered the information from the apparently isolated bone finds has been significant. Two types of bone group are distinguished, one that resembles the widely reported ‘loose bone’ phenomenon that is widely recognised from European Mesolithic sites. The other, represented by two bone groups at Cnoc Coig, is, at this time, restricted to western Scotland. It is dominated by hand and foot bones and appears to represent purposive behaviour. We concentrate our discussion on the latter phenomenon and place it within discussion of the nature of the later Mesolithic in western Scotland.

Transforming Beaker Culture in North-West Europe; Processes of Fusion and Fission
by Stuart Needham

The pottery we collectively call ‘Beakers’ is united by the thread of a potting and style tradition. Wrapped up in that tradition are also expressions concerning what such a pot is for and who it may represent. Both style and those embedded meanings mutate through the long currency of British Beakers. Indeed, the newly emerging chronology for Beaker grave groups suggests that there was one critical point of rapid mutation in both pot form and associated artefacts. This phase is referred to as a fission horizon, c. 2250–2150 BC, and it underlines the difficulties that past schemes of steady evolution have run into. In reviewing the continental background for Beaker-carrying cultures, a corridor of Bell Beaker/Corded Ware fusion is perceived along the southern flanks of the Channel. This created a modified spectrum of Beaker culture which stands at the head of the insular phenomenon. The long ensuing currency of Beaker pottery and Beaker graves in Britain does not hold up as a unified, steadily evolving entity. Instead, three ‘phases of meaning’ can be suggested: 1) Beaker as circumscribed, exclusive culture; 2) Beaker as instituted culture; 3) Beaker as past reference. The fission horizon initiates phase 2.

‘In this Chambered Tumulus were Found Cleft Skulls ...’: an Assessment of the Evidence for Cranial Trauma in the British Neolithic
by Rick J. Schulting & Michael Wysocki

Interpersonal violence is a powerful expression of human social interaction. Yet a consideration of violence in the past has done relatively little to inform our discussions of the British Neolithic. Here, we present the results of an examination of some 350 earlier Neolithic crania from mainly southern Britain. Of these, 31 shows healed or unhealed injuries suggestive of interpersonal violence. We suggest a conservative estimate of 2% fatal cranial injuries, and 4 or 5% healed injuries. These data are used as a platform to discuss possible contexts for, and consequences of, violence. We argue that, regardless of its actual prevalance, the reality or the threat of interpersonal violence can have an important affect on both the behaviour of individuals and the structure of society.

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