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More prehistoric enigmas for members to peruse and ponder

A bronze age "monument" of no established type, which saw renewed activity in the late iron age, has been identified by the Archaeological Field Unit of Cambridgeshire County Council. Excavations in the summer of 1998 have produced evidence for a series of activities spanning 2000 years which include placed deposits in pits and segmented ditches, palisades/fence lines, feasting and human burial.
         The picture that is appearing as a result of excavation does not indicate domestic settlement. Seemingly distinct zones of activity can be discerned across the site as a whole, and the types of activity represented appear to be distinctly non-functional, suggesting an area/areas of symbolic/ritual activity.

View of Area 1, Babraham Road excavations, with late iron age rectilinear feature in foreground
View of Area 1, Babraham Road excavations, with late iron age rectilinear feature in foreground
         The activity represented can be attributed to three broad phases. Phase 1 consisted primarily of pits, (including two deep 'shafts') dateable to the late neolithic/early bronze age, and a group of human burials. Phase 2 consisted of a pair of large ditches with V-shaped profiles infilled in the early-middle bronze age. The final phase of activity is represented by a series of shallow rectilinear features containing fragments of Belgic pottery.

Tightly flexed male inhumation from the neolithic-early bronze age phase
Tightly flexed male inhumation from the neolithic-early bronze age phase
The late neolithic/early bronze age
         Features, especially pits, attributable to this period appear to form distinct groups in terms of type, content, and spatial distribution. The types of artefacts recovered include fragments of Grooved Ware pottery, animal bone (including apparently selected elements of aurochs, red deer; pig, sheep/goat, beaver; pine marten and dog) and flint tools. The faunal assemblage as a whole from this period indicates either the presence of, or direct access to, a predominantly wooded environment which is supported by the results of molluscan analysis. Very young animals appear to be present, particularly piglets, which is, perhaps, an indicator of seasonal deposition. The presence of naturally shed antler including two from red deer of different ages (shed in the autumn) placed at the base of one these pits may be seen as further evidence for some form of seasonal ritual activity. Flint scrapers predominate, and tool types such as knives and burins are poorly represented, which suggests that only specific tasks were being carried out rather than the full range of activities associated with domestic settlement.
         To the south of the main area of excavation a cluster of shallow pits sealed by a layer of flint cobbles and cattle bones (perhaps remains of feasting) were found as well as three human burials. These included the tightly flexed inhumation of a young adult male, the partially articulated skeleton of a second adult male, and the poorly preserved skeleton of an infant of roughly 5 years of age.
         The partially articulated skeleton had been interred in a semi-decomposed state and had possibly been decapitated as a cut mark was visible where the jaw joined with the skull. This grave had subsequently been re-opened whilst the body was still decomposing and parts of the body moved around within the grave. Only 40% complete, the largest recognisable portion of the skeleton consisted of the ribs from the right side of the body with the arm still attached, although the hand had been removed and was not present within the burial pit. The lower jaw had been moved from the top of the body and placed upon a pile of partially articulated foot bones directly below the pelvis. This skeleton has been radiocarbon dated to between 2205-1895 cal BC. Close parallels can be drawn with similar graves found within Wandlebury Ring which have previously been considered to be iron age in origin.

The early to middle bronze age
         Evidence from this period consisted of a pair of large steeply sided ditches, aligned east-west, separated by an entranceway roughly 5m in width. Within the entranceway a linked series of shallow beam slots indicated the presence of a wooden structure. Faint traces of wear survived on the chalk which suggested the passage of foot traffic from the south, turning west into the wooden structure before turning northwards towards the limit of excavation.
         Three fills rich in artefacts were present within the infilling sequence of these ditches, separated by a series of sterile silting episodes. Faunal remains form the bulk of the material including the partially articulated skeleton of a dog, as well as sheep, pig and cattle. Radiocarbon dating of the latest of these fills (within a possible re-cut of the main ditch line) has shown that these bones were deposited between 1755-1415 cal BC. In contrast with the earlier pits the faunal assemblage from these ditches is clearly dominated by domestic species and contains the only horse bones from the site. Molluscan analysis revealed that open grassland was predominant in the local area at this time.

Partially articulated dog skeleton, radiocarbon-dated to the 2nd millennium BC
Partially articulated dog skeleton, radiocarbon-dated to the 2nd millennium BC

The late iron age
         Perhaps the most visually striking aspect of the site is the apparent care with which the area as a whole seems to be delineated by the cutting of a series of shallow square-ended linear features aligned either east-west or north-south. Although the distances between these features vary, the dimensions of the individual cuts are remarkably consistent, with an overall length of c 26m. These enigmatic features may be seen to be compartmentalising the landscape and seem, at least, to respect earlier zones of prehistoric activity.

         Topographically the site lies on a slight rise within a low-lying area beside the spring-line at the foot of a natural crescent formed by the western limits of the Gog Magog Hills. On these hills to the south-east stands the circular ring monument known as Wandlebury with another earthwork ("War Ditches") to the north-east. Although these two monuments have been interpreted as iron age forts their origins may be considerably earlier. A possible causewayed enclosure lies on the hilltop to the south of Wandlebury, completing the crescent of high land around the site, while a line of barrows runs northwards along the ridge between these monuments. A series of prehistoric routeways run through the general area, west-east from their crossing points on the Cam towards the Icknield Way and the Stour valley beyond, and the north-south Cam-Stort-Lee valley routes between the fens and the Thames.
         The presence of such a site at the base of the Gog Magog Hills adds important new information on what is clearly an unusual landscape with apparently strong symbolic elements. Of the many burials found at both Wandlebury and War Ditches interpreted as being iron age in date, some were mutilated and similar to the example described above. Radiocarbon dating of specific Wandlebury and War Ditches skeletons might also reveal much earlier dates than those currently assumed. The main elements of the site, interrupted ditches and palisade/fence lines with elaborate entranceway, groups of pits and placed deposits, are all well known elements of late neolithic/early bronze age ritual monuments. The way in which these features divide up the limited space available on the slight rise in the ground where the centre of the site occurs strongly suggests that control of movement and visibility were crucial to the design of the site. An area set apart for human burial, and associated evidence for feasting, further corroborate the ceremonial nature of the site; and its topographical position, flanked by hills on three sides and at a focal point of ancient routeways, makes it a natural choice for location of a special, and perhaps unique monument.

Mark Hinman & Tim Malim
Archaeological Field Unit
Cambridgeshire County Council


Members will notice that there are fewer illustrations in this issue of PAST. This is partly due to the nature of the articles; but could I please ask the photographers amongst you to take photos of Society events such as one-day meetings and study tours, and make them available for publication so that we can achieve a more visually interesting balance between text and picture.
         The AP on the front of PAST 30 was unfortunately printed upside down (corrected in the online version). This was because it had been moved from elsewhere in the text (where it was the right way up!) to the front page and the second set of faxed proofs sent to me by the printers were too dark to spot the inadvertent inversion. Many apologies to Bob Bewley, who has had to explain the apparent invisibility of the long gazelle-guiding walls to enquirers!
         An excess of material submitted for this issue has meant the curtailment of our Champion's Choice section, and the holding over of an interesting review article from Andrew Lawson until the next issue. So if you want to know his thoughts about what people want from books about archaeology, you will have to make a date with the July issue, where we hope also to have the promised further news about Prehistoric Society merchandise.


There is still a free student place available on the Society's Study Tour to southern Sweden, 14-21 June 1999. If you are a student member of the Society and would like to participate in this terrific tour of prehistoric sites (from megaliths to rock art) in south and east Scania, please contact the Secretary Bob Bewley for further details.


The management of the Stonehenge landscape has recently been one of the most hotly debated topics within archaeology as well as among local residents and visitors. At regular intervals the Society has been invited to comment on a variety of proposals, and the response (below) to the most recent was drafted by Council after a presentation by Dr Geoff Wainwright of English Heritage and a field visit. The so-called "master plan" for Stonehenge was issued in September 1998, and although there are many points of detail which require clarification, the essential features are:
         1. Closure of the A344 and relocation of a Visitor Centre to the Countess Barn area (outside the World Heritage site)
         2. A 2km cut-and-cover tunnel for a dual carriageway along the line of the current A303
         3. Open and free access to the whole of the landscape including the Stones within the henge
The closure of the A344 and the A303 tunnel will result in a reunification of the landscape currently divided by these two busy roads.

The Heelstone from inside the monument: a view that all visitors will be able to enjoy? © Linda Hall
The Heelstone from inside the monument: a view that all visitors will be able to enjoy? © Linda Hall
         Council felt a great weight of responsibility in making a response on behalf of the membership and thus wanted to allow every member the opportunity of seeing the response and commenting on it. The proposals for Stonehenge will develop and change as the details are agreed or discussed. There will be a Public Inquiry, and thus the better informed we all are the better our responses will be. It will take between five and ten years for the proposed plans to be realised in some form or other.
         Since the plan was issued, the National Trust has also lent support for the concepts within the proposals; as it owns and manages a considerable area of the Stonehenge landscape, it is a key player in the future of the monument and its surroundings.
         Copies of the Master Plan are available on request from English Heritage. If members do have comments, can they please be sent to the Secretary of the Society at the Registered Office.

The Society's Response

1. The Society supports the initiative taken by both English Heritage and the National Trust to improve visitor access and awareness of Stonehenge in a landscape setting by closing the current visitor facilities and the A344 road, proposing a Visitor Centre outside the World Heritage site, building a tunnel for the A303 (as a dual carriageway) and allowing free access to the landscape.
2. The UK government and its advisers should be congratulated on aiming for the highest possible standards in the presentation of World Heritage Sites and the standards set at Stonehenge should be exemplary. These standards should include minimising damage to existing and well preserved archaeological sites and minimising the impact on the landscape of any construction works planned. The Society supports the principle of minimal risk to any protected ancient monument.
3. The Society believes it is essential that there should be an independent assessment of the cost of a long-bored tunnel to act as a comparison for the proposed cut-and-cover tunnel. The destruction of 13.5 hectares of the most archaeologically sensitive land surface of Europe, within a World Heritage Site, may be something which future generations will find hard to understand.
4. The implications of the proposed new road schemes within the World Heritage Site will also have considerable impact on towns and villages outside the WHS and the Society would welcome further consultation on these schemes.
5. The detailed proposals for the Visitor Centre (both as a concept and in detail) have yet to be announced and they are an integral part of the future for Stonehenge, not least because of the need for a drop-off point at Fargo, changes to Byway 12 and other boundary changes. The Society would welcome further consultation of the Management Plan as it develops, in particular over provisions for visitor management.
6. The future for Stonehenge has to be seen in a very long-term context so that future generations will not have to make further dramatic alterations to a very sensitive landscape. Short-term requirements and aspirations (including costs) have to be weighed against these long-term expectations. The Society would welcome an open debate on the options being discussed for the new Visitor Centre and the ways in which these (and the road proposals) might be funded.

Bob Bewley

Three postgraduates report on a lively meeting in Durham

The Prehistoric Society's one-day research meeting was held on 20 February 1999 at Durham University. The conference, a multi-disciplinary audience of academics, students and the 'enthusiastic' public, was a hive of activity. We anticipated a lively debate... we were not to be disappointed!
         The conference kicked off to a flying start with two excellent papers, by Piers Vitebsky and Thomas Dowson. Vitebsky of Cambridge University contributed a fascinating insight into shamanic societies from a social anthropological perspective. Dowson, of Southampton University, reflected honestly upon the history of shamanism within the rock art discipline, recognising the criticisms of a monolithic approach. In agreement with Vitebsky, Dowson concluded that there is a need to recognise shamanism as a vast and diverse topic.
         The question of diversity remained a prominent theme. Marek Zvelebil of Sheffield University, argued that the term shamanism could only be applied to a specific world view which originated in Siberia; thus he recognised the vast diversity of socio-political ritual practices. Zvelebil disputed Vitebsky and Dowson's terminology, yet unwittingly agreed with their principle of shamanistic diversity. Ironically, Zvelebil still applied the term "shamanism" to a wide range of prehistoric cultures in Northern Europe.
         Margarita Díaz-Andreu of Durham University questioned the applicability of a shamanistic interpretation to Iberian rock art, in an implicit criticism of the general relevance of shamanism as advocated by Lewis-Williams and Dowson. Díaz-Andreu specifically objected to the representation of shamanism as fact, rather than interpretation. An opposing view is an essential element of any academic debate; however, Díaz-Andreu's valid stance was weakened by her exclusive focus on Lewis-Williams' article in part l of the 1991 Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, ignoring the important development and modification of these ideas by many scholars in subsequent work.
         The controversial issues of terminology and monolithism surrounding the shamanistic debate were avoided by Richard Bradley of Reading University and Christopher Chippindale of Cambridge University. Bradley provided a valuable alternative approach to the interpretation of rock art, analysing the topography in relation to the iconography. Chippindale discussed the time depth of the rock art iconography in Arnhem Land, north Australia and its relationship to 'clever man's business'. The 'clever men' were known to travel over long distances and take on animal forms.
         We found the conference enjoyable and informative, even though discussions warmed to a confrontational level. It highlighted some of the major controversies inherent in the shamanistic debate. However; we feel the discussion was limited by stale issues of terminology rather than outlining the direction rock art and shamanism should take in the future. Tensions were resolved later that evening in the more relaxed atmosphere of the Half Moon over a few pints!

Luanne Martin, Clarissa Aston and Kenneth Lymer
Dept of Archaeology
University of Southampton

Graham Mullan and Linda Wilson stress the importance of the cave environment in the interpretation of cave art

Not having seen the original engraving, we felt unable to comment on the original article in PAST 28 on the "Petit Sorcier" of Trois Frères; however, the contributions from Anne Sieveking and Michael Eastham have broadened the debate and enabled us to review some of the issues.
         It is clear; as Anne Sieveking states, that it is important not to rely on a single interpretation of a particular work, and it should be recognised, when referring to drawings, that there is a Breuil "style" which can at times be misleading in itself. With these points in mind we carried out a search of our bookshelf, concentrating mainly on those works referred to by these two contributors. This resulted in the following:
1. A black and white photograph of the entire figure in Geidon, fig. 338.
2. A colour photograph of the figure's head in Bahn and Vertut, fig. 104.
3. A drawing of the figure, presumably by the author, showing some additional detail of the surrounding engravings and rock features; Geidon fig. 338.
4. A number of copies of Breuil's drawing of the figure with varying degrees of additional detail:
a) Breuil fig. 129: showing all the engraved marks on the panel but no natural features, black on white.
b) Sievekiug fig.6: a copy of 4a to a smaller scale, white on black.
c) Breuil fig.139: a detail from 4a at a larger scale and showing a little more detail by use of differential greyscales.
d) Geidon fig. 338: the figure and a selection of two animal figures, ignoring all others.
e) Bahn and Vertut fig. 104: the figure in isolation.
Without intending to enter any debate upon "meaning" we then attempted to ascertain what, if any, evidence there was to enable conclusions to be drawn about the figure's orientation and its relationship with the "bow".

Orientation: In our view there is no external evidence in these reproductions to support Demouche, Slimak and Deflandre's reorientation. None of the other figures on the panel appears to be orientated in a position that would align with a crawling figure and to support the hypothesis of a crawling figure it appears necessary to take "le Petit Sorcier" in complete isolation, not necessarily a sustainable view.
         The drawing of Le Sorcier in (3) above seems to include a natural crack in the rock along the bottom of the figure which subconsciously aids an upright interpretation; however; a comparison with the photograph (1) shows a further crack of about the same size roughly parallel with the figure's back. Again, this photograph shows the figure in an upright pose, but shows little of the surrounding context which might allow a differing interpretation to be made. Lastly, the Vertut photograph (2) shows the figure's head in an upright pose, which when compared with the larger photograph (1) appears to be almost leaning over backwards. This photo reveals a superb amount of detail of the engraving, but could be extremely misleading on the subject of orientation.

The "Bow"
         None of the reproductions of this figure could, in our view, support the view that this particular feature is a bow. If a bow, it does not seem to be held by the figure in any way but does seem, as Sieveking has said, to be intimately associated with the figure's nose. For this reason, we hold that it is more likely to be a nosebleed, as suggested by Bahn and Vertut. This view is supported by reference to other figures in the cave, probably a wounded bear which is apparently bleeding from its nose as well as from various puncture wounds (Kuhn pp96-97). If this view is accepted, then, it supports an upright orientation.
         After carrying out the above exercise we conclude, with Sieveking, that it is extremely misleading to rely on only one representation of a given figure and that photographs must be consulted as well as drawings. However, we would go further and add that photographs, too, do not give all the required evidence. Michael Eastham points out that his understanding of this figure is based on a trip into the cave with Max Begouën. This allowed him to view the figure from a standpoint possibly similar to that intended by the artist, without the intercession of any interpreter, draughtsman or photographer. Also, on first viewing the black and white photo (1) we both noted a circle which may have been a right eye except that it did not show up at all in the detailed photo of the head (2).
         In our view, many of the books on this subject remove the viewer too far from the experience of the artist. In this respect it should be pointed out that some modern photographic techniques must be treated with caution, particularly photomontage. This technique may well produce excellent reproductions of the art in great detail, but serves also to remove the art wholly from its context and surroundings, a process which can only lead to misinterpretations.
         As an example of this, we have seen numerous photos of the "swimming deer" panel from Lascaux, notably those by Ruspoli (1987, 143) and Windels (1949, 90-91) and had seen the reproduction of these figures at the museum at Le Thot, but until we saw the real thing, we could not know that none of these presents the view that one has in the cave itself. Here the panel is viewed from slightly above and one realises that all the reproductions have misled by (subconsciously or not) skewing the panel. They all have a bottom line parallel with the cave floor, but this is not level: the cave is dipping here at quite a steep angle and the panel dips with it. Thus we believe that the deer might not be swimming across a stream but possibly down a set of rapids. This cannot be argued one way or another in relation to the published material alone, but only in the presence of the original.
         However, even while maintaining that there is, therefore, absolutely no substitute for seeing the original work in situ, we must sound a word of caution. A number of caves have been modified to allow large numbers of visits while taking care to conserve the artwork. This means that the original artists' viewpoint may have already been lost and may not be recoverable. For example, in Font de Gaume, the floor has been lowered to keep the visitors away from the paintings, and in Les Combarelles and Rouffignac floors have been even more drastically lowered to allow the public to walk in where the artists crawled. This makes it virtually impossible to view these works in the way that the artist did.
         It is our belief that some of these conditions have arisen because the context in which the art was created, deep in caves, has frequently been ignored or misunderstood. We came to the study of Palaeolithic art from a background as cavers rather than archaeologists or artists, and we believe that the study of the original environment is of great importance to the understanding of the art.

Graham Mullan & Linda Wilson

Bahn, P.G. and Vertut, J. 1988. Images of the Ice Age. Leicester. Windward
Breuil, H. 1952. Four Hundred Centuries of Cave Art. Montignac. Centre d, Études et de Documentation Préhistoriques.
Geidon, S. 1962. The Eternal Present - The Beginnings of Art. New York. Bollingen Foundation.
Ruspoli, M. 1987. The Cave of Lascaux - The Final Photographs. New York. Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
Sieveking, A. 1979. The Cave Artists. London. Thames and Hudson.
Windels, F. 1949. The Lascaux Cave Paintings. London. Faber and Faber.

Jean Clottes joins the 'Petit Sorcier' debate with observations on a more recent tracing of the figure than that by Breuil

The article in PAST 28 by Demouche, Slimak and Deflandre about a new interpretation for "Petit Sorcier" in Trois-Frères seems to have raised a lot of interest and many comments lately, by Ann Sieveking, Michael Eastham, Paul Bahn, Graham Mullan and Linda Wilson. All your commentators insist on the fact that any theory based on Breuil's tracings should be considered in relation to the original engravings. None of them seems to be aware that this was done years ago by Mr. Michel Dauvois, who checked Breuil's tracing by comparing it to available photographs (published or unpublished, the latter provided by Count Robert Bégouën) and by a comparison on the spot. He wrote (my translation) :
         "The examination of that engraving on the spot, thanks to the extreme kindness of Count Robert Bégouën, shows that the tracing by Breuil gives a more bovine profile to the lower face without showing the mouth even though the engraving is particularly clear: the horned head has got a closed mouth and a nostril where the extremity of the instrument is engaged (...). If the general outline of the body and the legs are perfectly clear; it is a different proposition for what has been construed as arms. However; it is excessively difficult - on a wall with hundreds of figures where thousands of sometimes very faint lines overlap each other - to know exactly what belongs to which figure and, as is so often the case in wall art, some details appear ambiguous next to others which are quite explicit." (Dauvois 1994:176).

The Trois-Frères
The Trois-Frères "Petit Sorcier". Drawing by Dauvois (1994, fig.7)
         In addition, Dauvois published a rendering of the "Petit Sorcier" (Dauvois 1994:169, fig. 7), which, to the best of my knowledge, is the only reliable tracing (from photographs and direct examination) ever published since Breuil's. Dauvois did not express any doubts as to the standing posture of the "Petit Sorcier" nor as to the two lines issuing from its nose being a musical bow that he interpreted as a "nose flute".
         As far as I am concerned, I am not convinced by the suggestion that the image should be seen on all fours in the manner of a traditional hunter. I have seen and examined the "Petit Sorcier" in Les Trois-Frères many times. It is located on the left side of the Sanctuary, in a narrow and low passage where one must see it sitting or reclining. Nothing - i.e. neither the morphology of the wall nor the posture of the artist - obliged the Magdalenian who engraved it to represent it standing if what had been meant was the representation of a hunter crouching or on all fours. One may add that in the Sanctuary, as in many other painted and engraved caves (Leroi-Gourham 1972-1973:345-346), the subjects represented are mostly seen as if there were a virtual ground line i.e. in a "natural" posture. This is in particular the case for the animals engraved in the immediate vicinity of the "Petit Sorcier". Therefore I see no reason to postulate that he should be seen in a different posture from the one chosen by the artist who represented him. As to the lines issuing from his nose, they certainly do not look like nose-bleed and the hypothesis of a nasal flute mentioned by Dauvois in the caption to his drawing would be more plausible.

Dr. Jean Clottes
11, rue du Fourcat
09000 FOIX

Dauvois, M 1994 Les témoins sonores paléolithiques. La Pluridisciplinarité en Archéologie Musicale. Paris: Ministère de la Culture, IVº Rencontres internationales d'Archéologie Musicale de l'ICTM, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Oct. 1990, pp. 153-206.
Leroi-Gourhan, A1972-1973 Résumé des cours et travaux. Paris: Annuaire du Collège de France, 81:343-357

One of the first recipients of the John and Bryony Coles bursary reports on his exploration of field systems

Last September I took time away from studying for a PhD in order to travel to some of the numerous places where prehistoric fields systems survive in north west Europe. Funded in part by the John and Bryony Coles Travel Bursary open to student members of the Prehistoric Society, I travelled through the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and Sweden. The aim of the trip was to explore the visible remains of the field systems; in addition, so as to gain some impression of their wider context, visits were also made to museums, libraries and archive collections. At a more basic level, the trip allowed me to gain an experience of the archaeology, thus discovering something of its character beyond the many black and white scaled drawings which I had studied in the academic articles and books.

Section through an iron age clearance cairn at Röstrop, S. Sweden. Scale kindly provided by Simon Stoddart
Section through an iron age clearance cairn at Röstrop, S. Sweden. Scale kindly provided by Simon Stoddart
         The areas which were visited varied considerably, and this presented some interesting contrasts. Used, as I was, to the straggling stony banks found in the uplands of Britain, the 'upland' moors of Drenthe in the northern Netherlands seemed altogether alien. The fields, most dating to the bronze age, and called 'Celtic fields' after their not so close relations found in southern Britain, were characterised by very broad low banks constructed in an apparently regular pattern across large expanses of the 'flat' open landscape. These banks, now preserved under a thick blanket of heather; are barely visible: the examples at Balloër Veld to the north east of Assen are particularly impressive. The terraces to be found in the Westerwald near Koblenz in the Rhineland of Germany could not have been more different, located in isolated areas of pasture in the forest, and closely related to nearby hilltop enclosures. A tour of the excavated iron age clearance cairns at Röstorp in southern Sweden returned me to the familiar environment of upland archaeology, even if the Swedish concept of upland, as with that in Netherlands, did not imply the presence of hills.
         The contrasts in the morphology and location of the fields was perpetuated in the various ways in which they were presented, or more often not presented. Only in the Netherlands was there an explicit effort to present the remains of 'Celtic fields' on maps, display boards and on the ground. Elsewhere, most specifically in Denmark and Germany, visiting the fields was much more of an adventure. The rather vague references provided by the guide books more often provided clues rather than directions. Yet the challenge of getting to the sites was usually rewarded: for example, the fields at Nørre Voerså Hede, south of Sæby in northern Jutland. The disparity in presentation between areas may relate to the intensity of archaeological research, but there is little doubt that the more widespread occurrence of surviving remains in Denmark and Germany is also a factor. Field systems are, of course, not the easiest of 'sites' to represent -the grand patterns to be seen on plans and aerial photographs take not a little imagination to recreate at ground level.

Reconstructed field banks of a 'Celtic' field system at Zeijen, Drenthe region, Netherlands. The mound in the background is probably an iron age barrow
Reconstructed field banks of a 'Celtic' field system at Zeijen, Drenthe region, Netherlands. The mound in the background is probably an iron age barrow
         The problems of representing fields graphically are further made difficult by the lack of interpretative understanding. Field systems are invariably taken-for-granted, perhaps because they are such a familiar part of our present landscape. However, such an argument does not always hold true for the more open vistas to be found on the Continent. The interpretations, where they are offered, focus almost solely on the economic role of the fields; as such they have become merely the context for settlements and burial. The reasons for and the impact of field systems is something which is only just now attracting interest. This is disappointing since, by moving through the fields and walking over the low banks and terraces, it is necessary to appreciate the important difference the construction of the earthworks made to past people's everyday lives.
         Visiting prehistoric field systems may seem to be a less than stimulating way in which to 'tour' parts of north-west Europe but it proved to be a way of reaching out of the way, unlooked-for locations. It made me think again about the preservation and representation of landscape at a popular level, and it revealed the need to view an often neglected source of evidence in a new perspective. I will finish by thanking the Society for providing financial support for the trip, and to the archaeologists who took the time to show me sites and answer my questions.

Robert Johnston
Dept of Archaeology
University of Newcastle upon Tyne

Another collection of interesting books is reviewed by Rob Young

"The time has come" the Editor said'… and six more books landed on my desk for discussion in the pages of PAST. Three deal with artefact-related research, one deals with monuments and social theory, one comprises the proceedings of a conference on the transition to farming in Eastern Europe, and the last is a large-scale, English, multi-period excavation report.
         In the Irish Stone Axe Project (Wordwell, 1998, Bray, ISBN 1-869857-23-2, price £15) Gabriel Cooney and Stephen Mandal have produced the first in a series of monographs which will report on the results of a major piece of research designed to catalogue and provenance all of the recorded stone axes in Ireland. This volume sets out the methodology and research strategies behind the project and it also presents the results of a programme of macroscopic petrographical analysis of axe finds. Particular attention is paid in the course of the book's major case study to the occurrence and character of what the authors term 'tuff' axes. These are what we would call in England 'Group VI' axes, and the authors argue that the recorded finds were brought to Ireland from Cumbria during the Neolithic. As well as a detailed discussion of the principles behind the project there is a detailed catalogue of the Group VI finds and an exhaustive bibliography on Irish stone axe studies and related issues. It is not a book for the general reader but as a potential research tool for lithic specialists it bodes well for the rest of the series.
         Eva Koch's monumental survey of Neolithic Bog Pots (Det Kongelige Nordiske Oldskriftselskab, 1998, Copenhagen, ISBN 87-87483-39-4) details the finding of Neolithic ceramics in 'watery places' in Denmark. It is certainly not the kind of publication which, in recent years, we have been familiar with in England. It is the end product of research begun in 1980, culminating in the author's PhD thesis in 1995.
         We are all, I am sure, familiar with the Scandinavian bog bodies of bronze age and iron age date, but the ceramic finds documented here have their origins in TRB (Funnel Beaker) contexts. The majority of the 254 finds under discussion were recorded in the process of peat cutting, especially around the time of World War II, when peat was still dug by hand and detailed observation of the end-products of this activity was possible. The book looks in detail at ceramic typology and technology (Chapters 4 and 5). In the last two chapters, however, (6 and 7) an extended discussion of the context of ceramic deposition leads the author to suggest that the placing of early, complete, ceramic forms in wet places marks the beginning of votive practices that were to last till the advent of Christianity in Denmark. Though this may seem an archaic form of publication to some people, there is no doubt in my mind that this book represents an important contribution to the study of north-west European neolithic ceramics. It complements some of the mechanisms of votive deposition so well set out for later periods in works like Richard Bradley's The Passage of Arms. The catalogue alone, with its lavish and detailed pottery illustration, is a major achievement.
         The third book in this batch also deals with a major achievement, namely the 58-year career of the late Prof. Joseph Raftery, sometime Director of the National Museum of Ireland. Raftery died in 1992, and this book, edited by Michael Ryan and simply entitled Irish Antiquities: Essays in Memory of Joseph Raftery, (Wordwell, 1998, Bray, ISBN 1869857259, price £25) is a compendium celebrating that long and illustrious career. Raftery had wide-ranging interests, taking in topics as diverse as portable antiquities, museum archaeology and museological theory. The list of his published works shows the breadth of his researches and the essays, ranging as they do from Peter Woodman's discussion of the antiquarian George Morant's contribution to the study of the Mesolithic of Ballyhoe Lough in Co. Monaghan to Michael Kelly's discussion of 'Two Tudor Coin Hoards from Gratton Street, Cork', indicate the intricacies and spread of his life's work. I have to confess to a personal liking for celebratory 'Festschriften' such as this one. At their best they are a kind of distilled essence of a person's career and interests and the marvellous detail of some of the contributions here does give something of a flavour of the man.
         Richard Bradley's The Significance of Monuments (Routledge, 1998, London, ISBN 0-415-15204-6) is another richly flavoured offering. The subtitle 'On the shaping of human experience in Neolithic and Bronze Age Europe' sums up the thrust of the book. This is Bradley at his best; an agile, broad-brush approach generally, with ideas flowing and masses of information and fact skilfully marshalled to bolster his central arguments. It is a book about monuments in the broadest sense, from the mesolithic right through to the later bronze age. It is more than a typological/morphological exercise though and it presents a story of transition and transformation of both landscape and monuments in Britain over the 'longue durée'.
         Some of Bradley's arguments have been put forward elsewhere, and it is impossible to do the book justice here. If you haven't seen it yet I would simply say get it and read it whether you are a professional archaeologist, student, or an interested lay person. Chapters 2, 4, and 6 were the highlights for me, with Ch. 6, on the 'Persistence Of Memory' being an amazingly clear and concise discussion of the ideas of researchers such as Shanks and Tilley, Gosden, Ingold and Barrett - no mean feat in fifteen pages!
         Harvesting The Sea, Farming The Forest (Sheffield Archaeological Monograph, 10, 1998, Sheffield Academic Press, ISBN 1-85075-648-1, price £50) is Marek Zvelebil et al's volume on the emergence of neolithic societies in the Baltic area and it consists of 30 conference papers of varying length. Some of these deal with individual sites, others with broader, theoretical issues, raised by the concept of neolithisation. One of the many strengths of this book (from the linguistically challenged perspective of this reviewer at least!) lies in the fact that all of the papers are in English. I realise that this is a pretty anglocentric point to make, but it does mean that a lot of information about the eastern European mesolithic, which was previously unavailable to most of us, is widely accessible for the first time. Anyone with an interest in the mesolithic-neolithic transition, however defined, will find something of interest in this book. From a teaching and research point of view I thought that chapters 19 - 24 were incredibly relevant and stimulating. I have always been particularly interested in the work of Ole Gron on the reconstruction of the use of space in small dwellings. This draws on ethnographic, archaeological and social psychological research, and in his chapter in this book he brings all of these approaches to bear on a discussion of the transition to farming in Denmark from a 'Mesolithic viewpoint' - excellent stuff!
         Last but not least this time around is Archaeology and the Landscape in the Lower Blackwater Valley by S. Wallis and M. Waughman (EAA, 82, 1998, Chelmsford, ISBN 1-85281-160-9). This is No.82 in the East Anglian Archaeology series, sponsored by the Scole Archaeology Committee. Anyone familiar with this series will know that it has maintained a very high standard for over twenty years and this present volume is no exception. The Norfolk, Suffolk, and Essex Archaeology Units, along with the Norwich Survey and the Fenland Project all contribute to East Anglian Archaeology and this report comes from Essex. What we have here is a detailed discussion of two major excavation projects at Slough House Farm and Chigborough Farm in the Blackwater Valley. The sites appeared as crop marks and were excavated in advance of gravel quarrying. The two have produced a range of structural data spanning the neolithic to iron age periods, and the specialist reports and the general discussion try and set both activity areas into their broader 'landscape' contexts. The analysis of the finds is clear and well set out, the illustrations are all crisp and relevant, and the discussion by Wallis and Waughman is eloquently written, full of good ideas and evidence of much thought. Its not often that I've read an excavation report from cover to cover in the last ten years or so, but this one was good value. So, indeed, were all the other books that the Editor sent me this time - keep them coming!

NB Where no price is given it was unavailable at the time of writing.

Rob Young
School of Archaeological Studies
University of Leicester

Tessa Machling reports on the 'indoor' special events offered by our hosts in Scotland last July

Along with the exciting visits to the many archaeological sites of the Dumfries and Galloway region (see PAST 30), the Society was also honoured with visits to two of the region's museums in Dumfries and Kirkcudbright. Both had put on prehistoric archaeology exhibitions in our honour.
         The Dumfries Museum visit on the Monday included a wine and nibbles reception hosted by the Museum staff and the local Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Archaeological Society. The museum is absolutely delightful with a wide range of exhibits ranging from dinosaur footprints through to an excellent collection of Pictish stones and rock art. The museum's educator had been running local workshops with schools and had planned one on prehistoric life to coincide with our visit: the children's artwork was on display when we visited and included many beautifully drawn views of prehistoric domesticity and models of how pots were made.
         Many DGNHAS members were present for us to talk to at the reception, and they had a stand at the museum, where many of our members were able to purchase the relevant reports on the sites they had seen; some of the local society members also took up the Prehistoric Society's offer to attend parts of the tour as guests, and thanked the Prehistoric Society for their hospitality (both at the reception and in their annual report).
         The second visit was to the Stewartry Museum in Kirkcudbright, where we were welcomed to the Museum by Dr. David Devereux. After his informative short talk, members of the Society looked around the museum which contained a varied collection including Jessie M King illustrations and various archaeological artefacts. The Museum had put on a special exhibition of 'Prehistoric Galloway', timed to coincide with our visit. The exhibition contained several choice examples of axes etc. and included excellent photographs of many of the sites we had seen.
         Both visits were greatly appreciated by all those on the tour and our thanks must go to all concerned with organising the events: members of the DGNHAS, in particular Mark White; Marion Stewart for organising the Dumfries Museum reception; and the staff at the Stewartry Museum, especially Dr David Devereux.

Tessa Machling

Bryony and John Coles tell us of a 'must-have' book at a special price to Society members

The "Windeby Girl" (Ed.:back in the news again: see the 'Berliner Morgenpost' for 31 March 1999 and discussions on arch-de and arch-theory)
A conference was held in Silkeborg, Denmark, to celebrate the special exhibition of bog bodies in the Museum; the conference was sponsored by the National Museum of Denmark and WARP (Wetland Archaeology Research Project), and many members of the Prehistoric Society attended the event. The Conference Proceedings are now published by WARP and members of the Society are invited to purchase copies at a special Society price.
         Wetland archaeology from around the world is discussed in a number of papers (Switzerland, America, Japan etc), sacred sites are amply represented (Denmark, Canada, Netherlands etc) and bog bodies and related studies figure large - nine papers from Ireland, Denmark, Netherlands, Britain. Many subjects in the Proceedings are aired for the first time, including fishing structures from Russia (as well as from Denmark and Ireland); there is a magisterial survey of the Irish bog roads, a summary of the wonderful boats and other objects from the Nydam bog, work in Doggerland and the Severn Estuary, Sweet Track management in Somerset, work in the wetlands of northern England and Scotland, experimental work on piglet preservation in peat, and discussion of the bog body as literary inspiration. The Proceedings are opened by a short paper by Seamus Heaney, explaining his fascination with the Tollund Man and the famous poem that resulted from his encounter. Tollund Man and his many contemporaries, and related sacrifices, are illustrated throughout the book, along with another 150 pictures of wet sites, landscapes, structures and objects.
         The book is edited by Bryony and John Coles, and Mogens Schou Jørgensen. It is available from WARP, Fursdon Mill Cottage, Thorverton, Devon EXS 5JS. Price to Prehistoric Society members just £16.00 postpaid (240 pages). Cheques payable to WARP please.

A regular column featuring the best of Prehistory on the World Wide Web

The Prehistoric Society: Yes, the Society's Web pages are now available to visitors, thanks to the excellent work of Dr Andrew Garner. Here you will find details of the Society, membership, events, grants and awards, the full text of issues of PAST since April 1997, the Index of the Proceedings from Vol. 56-60, and Contents and Abstracts for Vols 63-64 (1997-8). We are sure you will enjoy browsing our excellent website.

Southeast Archaeological Center, National Parks Service: Part of NPS's ParkNet, this is an excellent introduction to the prehistory of the southeastern US and Caribbean, with detailed outlines of the archaeology of prehistoric periods (Paleoindian; Archaic; Woodland; Mississippian and Later Prehistoric). Each section lists and provides links to National Park Units with sites of the relevant date, as well as links to further NPS prehistory pages (via 'Links to the Past' logo) and to relevant non-NPS websites. Several hours browsing here!

Discover India Gallery: A full and interesting site about Indian archaeology divided into 16 main sections, 10 of which are currently active: these include Indian Prehistory (with online articles on the palaeolithic in Karnataka, rock art in the Pachmarhi Hills and the prehistory of Tamil Nadu), Excavation Update (with articles on the Acheulian quarry site of Isampur as well as three other prehistoric excavations), Geoarchaeology and Quaternary Studies, and Archaeological Literature (with extensive abstracts of articles and PhD theses, reviews and journals/newsletters).


Iron Age Research Student Seminar: 5.6.99
Held at the University of Southampton, this conference is intended primarily for students engaged in existing MA/MSc and MPhil/PhD projects to present papers in an informal atmosphere. However, anybody who has an interest in current Iron Age research is welcome. Offers of papers are invited. Further details from Sophia Jundi, Department of Archaeology, University of Southampton, Southampton, Hampshire SO17 1BJ

Flint symposium: 6.9.99-10.9.99
The VIII flint symposium will be held in Bochum, Germany, with sessions on prehistoric flint mining, distribution and processing of mined flint, inter-regional contacts, settlements associated with flint mines, geology of mined silicious rocks, flint sourcing and identification, and geophysics of flint mine sites. Further details from Prof Dr Gerd Weisgerber, Deutsches Bergbau-Museum, Institut fur Montanarchaeologie, Am Bergbaumuseum 28, D-44791 Bochum, Germany

European Association of Archaeologists: 14.9.99-19.9.99
The fifth annual meeting of the EAA is to be held at Bournemouth University. Sessions suggested to date are divided into three areas: managing the archaeological record and the cultural heritage, the archaeology of today: theoretical and methodological approaches, and archaeology and material culture: interpreting the archaeological record. Proposals for further sessions, papers and poster displays are now invited. As well as the main conference there will be organised tours to archaeological sites in the area and various specialist meetings. Further details from EAA Meeting Secretariat, School of Conservation Sciences, Bournemouth University, Fern Barrow, Poole, Dorset BH12 5BB, fax 01202 595478

New Approaches to the Archaeology of Art, Religion and Folklore - 'A Permeability of Boundaries?': 11.12.99-12.12.99
Organised by postgraduates from the Dept of Archaeology, University of Southampton, this conference will explore four themes: rock art; archaeology and art theory; images through time; art, religion and magic. Professor Richard Bradley, will give the keynote address on the first evening. For further details on presenting papers or attendance contact: Robert Wallis, Ken Lymer or Simon Crook at the Department of Archaeology, University of Southampton, Highfield, Southampton, Hampshire SO17 1BJ

Theoretical Archaeology Group, Cardiff 1999: 14.12.99-16.12.99
A wide range of sessions is already proposed for this annual conference, from 'Sensual archaeologies' to 'Society in Nature', and 'Nationalism and Heritage' to 'Archaeology on the Margin'. Further details from TAG99 Organising Committee, Hisar, Cardiff University, PO BOX 909, Cardiff, CF1 3XU
URL: uwcc/hisar/conferences/tag99/

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