The latest contribution to our understanding of Neolithic lifestyles in the British Isles comes in the form of a wide-ranging book by Keith Ray and Julian Thomas. In it, they demonstrate that many Mesolithic sites of gathering continued to be regarded as special places throughout the Neolithic. This deliberate commemoration of the past gives important insights into the minds of the first farmers. Chris Catling investigates.
In my archival ‘excavation’ of Doggerland (CA 342), I mentioned that it was Bryony Coles who coined the name of this site and led early research into its landscape, and that I planned to return to her work in a later column. Here I make good on my promise, for hers is a story well worth exploring. Beyond Doggerland, Bryony Coles is best known for her work on the Somerset Levels in the 1970s and 1980s. It was here that she and her collaborator (later husband) John Coles led many seasons of fieldwork on a range of prehistoric sites. In the process, they effectively invented the formal discipline of ‘wetland’ archaeology.