Neolithic

Stenness from E

Revolutionising chronologies of Neolithic Orkney

Orkney has long been renowned for its wealth of well preserved Neolithic sites, such as Skara Brae, and it seems that much is known about the time and region. But a new study by a team at Historic England has set out to challenge our current understanding of the chronology of the period by compiling […]

Overview of site showing archaeologists working on Early Neolithic Houses

Neolithic house at Cata Sand

Braving the inter-tidal waves at at Cata Sand beach on Sanday, Orkney, archaeologists have uncovered the first ‘classic’ early Neolithic house to be discovered on the island. Dating from c.3400-3100 BC, the house’s remains comprise two construction layers, with internal structures ranging from a stone set hearth and various pits to partitioning walls. Its footprint […]

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Current Archaeology 328

Between 1974 and 1981 a remarkable campaign of excavations in Dublin exposed a swathe of the Viking town. From an archaeological perspective the conditions were perfect, with waterlogged layers preserving the vestiges of hundreds of houses and thousands of artefacts. But this was also a race against the clock, with public demonstrations buying more time […]

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Current Archaeology 327

Why were Pictish symbols carved into Trusty’s Hill, far to the south of where they usually occur? Investigation of a hillfort towering over the images reveals that the site developed into a prosperous centre in the 6th century AD, and may even have been at the heart of the lost kingdom of Rheged. If so, […]

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Current Archaeology 326

What are borders for? It is a question that has recently gone mainstream. Debate about ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ borders finds a parallel in attempts to determine whether Roman borders blocked or simply regulated movement. In this regard, the true nature of Hadrian’s Wall and the Antonine Wall remains a mystery. As the modern world is reminding us, though, the nature […]

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The Larkhill causewayed enclosure

Rethinking the early Neolithic Stonehenge landscape Excavations at Larkhill have revealed a remarkable set of structures superimposed in the Wiltshire chalk. The discovery of a causewayed enclosure is raising fundamental questions about the early Neolithic focus of what would become the Stonehenge landscape, while more recent digging sought to prepare soldiers for the terrors of […]

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Heathery livrocky land: rethinking the stones of Neolithic Pembrokeshire

In a major new volume on the archaeology of Pembrokeshire, Tim Darvill argues that monument typologies do not help us understand how people viewed rocks and the landscape in the past. We need to think less like archaeologists and start asking questions about the meaning of stone and what these monuments might have signified to […]

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Current Archaeology 324

How should we study ancient stone monuments? In the past, great ingenuity has been expended on cataloguing them according to ever more intricate typologies. Now a survey of Neolithic monuments in Pembrokeshire is applying simpler classifications and focusing on what these edifices meant to the communities that raised them. The results raise questions about how efforts to clear the first farming land […]

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Blick Mead

Exploring the ‘first place’ in the stonehenge landscape Ongoing excavations at Blick Mead, an ancient spring on Salisbury Plain, have revealed an unprecedented array of evidence for large Mesolithic gatherings and extravagant feasts taking place just over a mile from where Stonehenge would be built thousands of years later. Now the project has produced signs […]

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Current Archaeology 321

Legend has it that the Rothwell charnel chapel was discovered when a grave digger tumbled into an underground vault stacked with bones. This alarming incident brought to light a rare example of an intact medieval ossuary in England. Our cover feature explores why the dead were assembled in this manner, and how common the practice was. […]

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