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Durham e-Theses
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Riddles in the Dark? The human use of caves during the 1st millennia BC and AD across the British Isles

WILFORD, SAM,MILTON (2016) Riddles in the Dark? The human use of caves during the 1st millennia BC and AD across the British Isles. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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PDF (Viewshed analysis of caves in case study regions) - Supplemental Material
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This thesis explores the significance of the human use of caves across the British Isles during the first millennia BC and AD (c.800 BC- 800 AD). Thus far, work has often focused on individual cave assemblages or has discussed cave-use as an adjunct to wider research as part of specific regional and chronological narratives. Whilst such studies demonstrate the potential importance of caves in the lifeways of past communities, these sites lack an overall context and more work is needed in order to integrate these places within wider narratives of first millennia Britain. As such, this study provides the first comprehensive overview and discussion of the role of caves during the Iron Age, Roman Iron Age and Early Medieval period across England, Wales and Scotland.

Using an integrated approach, combining studies of patterns of deposition inside caves with spatial and viewshed analysis of location, this thesis sets out to move away from treating caves as isolated backdrops of activity to examine how these sites, through their morphology and landscape position, influenced human selection and use. It becomes evident that despite cave-use being chronologically and regionally diverse, caves were important sites in many coastal and upland regions, often chosen because of the nature of their morphology and relationship to certain areas of the landscape. Furthermore, similarities in the nature of deposition in caves to that recorded elsewhere in other natural places and archaeological sites, along with the use and construction of manmade subterranean spaces, demonstrates that cave-use was intrinsically linked to wider social concepts of natural places, landscapes and the underground in general. These results enhance our understanding not only of the nature of cave-use during the first millennia but also how these communities perceived the world around them.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:"Caves""Cave Archaeology""Cave Use""Landscapes""1st millennia Britain""Iron Age""Roman Iron Age""Early Medieval"
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Archaeology, Department of
Thesis Date:2016
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:12 Dec 2016 12:46

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