Andrew Mann and Robin Jackson
Oxbow Books, £30
Review Christopher Hayden
Clifton Quarry is a key site for the prehistory of the West Midlands. The outstanding discovery was an early Iron Age settlement, dating from a short period in the 6th to 4th centuries BC, consisting of numerous four-post structures, but curiously with no clear evidence for roundhouses. Charred grain and charcoal from the post-holes of the four-posters suggest that they burnt down and supports the idea that such structures were granaries.
Discoveries from other periods include a late Neolithic pit, which contained a large deposit of charred grain and crab apples (including no fewer than 59 crab-apple stalks) as well as an exceptional group of six or more stone axes. Perhaps less striking, but equally important, is a pollen sequence running from the late Mesolithic into the late Bronze Age which shows, among other things, that major clearance began in the early Bronze Age, a period for which there is very little direct evidence of settlement.
These thought-provoking discoveries are well discussed, and the clear presentation of the evidence in this report may well encourage alternative readings.