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Durham e-Theses
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Windows into the past: an investigation into prior activity at Neolithic monuments in Britain

GRAF, JANICE,CAROL (2012) Windows into the past: an investigation into prior activity at Neolithic monuments in Britain. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis investigates the nature of the buried ground surfaces beneath Neolithic long barrows and chambered tombs in Britain. Excavations at sites across the country have revealed the presence of pre-mound pits, postholes and artefact scatters on the preserved ground surfaces below the monuments, suggesting episodes of earlier human activity. These features offer tantalizing glimpses into Neolithic land-use, settlement, and burial practices, but until now, no systematic examination of this evidence has been undertaken. This study fills that gap by bringing together all of the available information on pre-monument Neolithic land surfaces for the first time, enabling a better understanding of the nature of the features, the frequency with which they occur, and their potential significance in terms of the importance of place and the persistence of significant landscapes in Neolithic Britain.
Situated within the broader themes of landscape, memory and the significance of place, this thesis draws upon an extensive body of excavation reports and related literature to identify and record the extent and nature of the pre-monument evidence across the country. Two case studies place the evidence in a regional framework and ground it within the local Neolithic context.
The analysis demonstrated that features or deposits on the buried ground surfaces are relatively common – more than half of the sites in this study reported at least one feature. Patterns of variation were identified in the use of pits and other features, suggesting regional preferences and acts of individual agency. Although many of the pre-mound features are likely the work of the builders and users of the monuments, some can certainly be attributed to earlier occupants, suggesting that significant places in the landscape may have been remembered, re-visited and re-worked over decades and centuries.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:"Neolithic", "landscape", "memory", "place", "Britain"
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Archaeology, Department of
Thesis Date:2012
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:23 May 2012 15:06

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