We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham e-Theses
You are in:

Wild wetlands and domestic drylands?
Prehistoric communities of the East Anglian Fens in their broader regional context (c. 4000 BC - 100 AD)

HUISMAN, FLOOR,JOKE (2019) Wild wetlands and domestic drylands?
Prehistoric communities of the East Anglian Fens in their broader regional context (c. 4000 BC - 100 AD).
Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

PDF (Volume 1: Text) - Accepted Version
PDF (Volume 2: Appendices) - Supplemental Material


The potential of well-preserved prehistoric wetland sites for our understanding of the past has long been recognised but is currently not fully realised due to the isolation of the sub-discipline of Wetland Archaeology from mainstream Archaeology. This is mostly because wetlands and wetland people have often been studied separately from dryland(er)s in the UK. Although it is now recognised that wetlands and wetland people were in fact connected to (those in) drier areas, wetland(er)s remain somewhat isolated. It is often unclear what role they played in the wider landscape, who past ‘wetlanders’ were, or how they related to near-by ‘drylanders’.

The aim of this research is to address these issues by contextualising later prehistoric (c. 4000 BC-100 AD) wetland sites and communities in the East Anglian Fens (UK). It examines how wetland(er)s fit in the wider socio-cultural and physical landscape by considering past human-environment interaction and its social outcomes through time. It focusses on food remains in and around the former Fens to understand how the wetlands were used throughout time. It then uses social theories current in mainstream Archaeology to examine how people’s identities were constructed through their interaction with the wetland environment and to assess to what extent ‘wetlander’ identities may have affected people’s relations with others.

Unlike many previous projects this study uses a large scale, broad comparative approach, which encompasses both wetland and dryland sites. A range of domestic and wild plant and animal remains from 145 selected sites in and around the former Fens were recorded in a purpose-built relational database and systematically compared to study subsistence practices and reconstruct human-environment interaction in three different environments (wetlands, drylands and the fen edge) through time (Neolithic to Iron Age, c. 4000 BC-100 AD).

This analysis has identified five stages of human-wetland interaction, demonstrating that the former Fens were of greater interest in some periods, whereas there is less activity in others. Yet in all phases there are connections between the wetland, fen edge and dryland environments, through those exploiting and inhabiting these landscapes. People’s changing interaction with the dynamic wetland environment led to a range of different wetland identities, some stronger and more distinct than others, but wetlanders were always part of, or interacting with, ‘dryland’ communities, just like various wetland environments were an integrated part of the wider landscape.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Wetlands, later prehistory, human-environment interaction, identity
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Archaeology, Department of
Thesis Date:2019
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:23 May 2019 08:00

Social bookmarking: del.icio.usConnoteaBibSonomyCiteULikeFacebookTwitter