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Placing pits: Landscape Occupation and Depositional Practice During the Neolithic in East Anglia

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 February 2014

Duncan Garrow
Affiliation:
School of Archaeology, Classics & Egyptology, University of Liverpool, 12–14 Abercromby Square, Liverpool L69 7WZ

Abstract

This paper takes Neolithic pits as a starting point from which to investigate the broader issues of settlement and deposition in Britain at that time. It suggests that while sites made up primarily, and often only, of pits have recently been incorporated much more readily into accounts of the period, they are still not well understood. It is only by investigating the character of occupation across the landscape as a whole, and the nature of deposits in a variety of different contexts, that we will be able to understand pits, settlement, or deposition fully. On the basis of a study of this kind, it is suggested that pits were sited in specific locations which might be considered suitable for ‘settlement’; it is also demonstrated that deposition varied considerably between contexts and over time. By including large numbers of sites known only through ‘grey’ reports and Historic Environment Records, the study draws on an important body of work which has been under-used in the past. The paper focuses primarily on East Anglia, a region well-known for its pit sites but not well-known for its monuments; in doing so, it aims to counterbalance the weight of previous narratives which have tended to focus on other parts of Britain.

Résumé

Cette étude choisit comme point de départ les fosses néolithiques et à partir de là explore le sujet plus général des occupations et des dépôts en Grande-Bretagne à cette époque. Elle propose que, tandis que des sites constitués essentiellement, et quelquefois uniquement, de fosses ont récemment été incorporés beaucoup plus facilement dans les comptes rendus de l'époque, ils ne sont pas encore bien compris. Ce n'est qu'en examinant le caractère spécifique des occupations sur le territoire dans son ensemble, et la nature des dépôts dans une variété de contextes différents, que nous serons en mesure de pleinement comprendre les fosses, occupations et dépôts. Sur la base d'une étude de ce type, on émet l'hypothèse que les fosses étaient situées à des endroits particuliers qu'on pourrait qualifier d'appropriés à une ‘occupation’; on démontre également que les dépôts variaient énormément d'un contexte à l'autre et au fil du temps. En incluant un grand nombre de sites qu'on ne connait que par des comptes rendus peu clairs et les Archives de l'Environnement Historique, l'étude s'appuie sur une importante masse de travaux qui a été sous-utilisée jusqu'à présent. L'étude se concentre essentiellement sur l'East Anglia, une région bien connue pour ses sites de fosses, mais moins connue pour ses monuments; ce faisant son but est de contrebalancer le poids des récits précédents qui ont eu tendance à se concentrer sur d'autres parties de la Grande-Bretagne.

Résumen

Este trabajo tiene como punto de arranque los pozos neolíticos a partir de los cuales se investiga los temas más amplios del asentamiento y de la deposición en Gran Bretaña durante ese periodo. El trabajo sugiere que, mientras que los sitos compuestos primariamente (y a menudo únicamente) de pozos han sido recientemente incorporados con más facilidad a la interpretación del periodo, son aún sin embargo poco entendidos. Es únicamente a través de la investigación del tipo de ocupación a lo largo del paisaje en su totalidad, y de la naturaleza de los depósitos en una variedad de contextos, que seremos capaces de entender completamente los pozos, asentamientos o deposición. En base a un estudio de este tipo, sugerimos que los pozos eran emplazados en localidades específicas que podrían considerarse aceptables para el asentamiento; también se demuestra que la deposición varió considerablemente entre contextos y a través del tiempo. Gracias a la inclusión de un gran número de yacimientos conocidos sólo a través de “vagas” noticias y del Registro Histórico Medioambiental, este estudio se apoya en un importante “corpus” de datos que ha sido infrautilizado en el pasado. Este trabajo se centra primariamente en East Anglia, una región bien conocida por sus yacimientos con pozos pero no por sus monumentos, lo que ofrece a su vez un contrapeso a la importancia que interpretaciones previas han otorgado a otras zonas de Gran Bretaña.

Zusammenfassung

Dieser Artikel nimmt die Neolithischen Gruben als Ausgangspunkt zur Untersuchung weiter führender Fragen zu Siedlungen und Deponierungen im Neolithischen Großbritannien. Im Artikel wird behauptet, dass trotz der Tatsache, dass Fundstellen größtenteils und oft sogar ausschließlich aus Gruben bestehen, und neuerdings mehr in die Untersuchungen zum Neolithikum einbezogen werden, Gruben immer noch nicht ausreichend verstanden werden. Es wird dementsprechend betont, dass wir Gruben, Siedlungen und Deponierungen nur dann verstehen können, wenn wir die Besiedlungs- und Deponierung-sstrukturen und ihre unterschiedlichen Kontexte innerhalb einer gesamten Landschaft untersuchen. Auf der Grundlage einer solchen Untersuchung wird gezeigt, dass Gruben nur an für, Siedlungen' passenden Stellen angelegt wurden, aber von Kontext zu Kontext und Zeitperiode zu Zeitperiode beträchtlich variieren. Diese Studie stützt sich auf eine große Anzahl von nur aus der, grauen' Literatur und historischen Umweltakten bekannten Fundstellen, die bisher nicht entsprechend genutzt worden sind. Dabei konzentriert sich der Artikel hauptsächlich auf East Anglia. Diese Region ist zwar für ihre Fundstellen mit Gruben sehr gut bekannt, jedoch weniger für ihre Monumente. Es wird somit versucht, die bisherigen Bearbeitungen, die sich vor allem auf andere Regionen Großbritanniens konzentriert haben, in ihrer Bedeutung auszugleichen.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Prehistoric Society 2007

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