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Monuments and Memories Set in Stone: a Cornish Bronze Age Ceremonial Complex in its Landscape (on Stannon Down)

  • Andy M. Jones (a1)

Abstract

Three seasons of archaeological fieldwork were carried out in 1998–2000 by Cornwall Archaeological Un within the Imerys Stannon China Clay Works, Bodmin Moor. The first two seasons involved the excavation of an Early Bronze Age cairn group and Middle Bronze Age and Middle Iron Age settlement activity. The third season on the Northern Downs involved the evaluation a number of cairns, field systems, and palaeoenvironmental sites.

The cairn group consisted of three earlier Bronze Age ring-cairns and two ‘tailed’ cairns. One ring-cairn continued to be used as a ceremonial monument in the Middle Bronze Age and was reused during the Iron Age as a dwelling. An artefact assemblage including Bronze and Iron Age pottery and stonework was recovered. Two prehistoric beads one of faience, the other of amber, were also found.

Ten Bronze Age radiocarbon determinations spanning 2490–1120 cal BC and two Iron Age determinations (370–40 cal BC) were obtained from three of the cairns. Two pollen columns on the Northern Downs were also dated. Significantly, a series of eight determinations was obtained from a single column, which provided environmental information from the Mesolithic through to the early medieval period. The radiocarbon dating showed that impact on the vegetation of the Down commenced during the Neolithic, with larger-scale clearance during the Bronze Age. Widespread open grassland was established by the Middle Bronze Age.

It is suggested here that use of space within the cairn group was structured and that the cairns formed a monument complex which was part of a wider landscape cosmology, involving groupings of particular monument types and the referencing of rocky outcrops and tors.

The investigations on Stannon Down were important as an opportunity to study an Early Bronze Age ceremonial landscape and reconsider how later Middle Bronze Age and Iron Age peoples on Bodmin Moor might have engaged with and interpreted the materiality of earlier prehistoric monuments.

Trois saisons de prospection archéologique ont été entreprises en 1998–2000 par l'unité archéologique de Cornouailles à l'intérieur de l'atelier de poterie d'Imeris Stannon, à Bodmin Moor. Les deux premières saisons comprirent la fouille d'un groupe de cairns du début de l'âge du bronze et d'industries d'occupation de l'âge du bronze et de l'âge du fer moyens. La troisième saison sur les collines des Northern Downs comporta l'évaluation d'un certain nombre de cairns, de systèmes de champs et de sites paléo-environnementaux.

Le groupe de cairns consistait en trois cairns en anneaux du début de l'âge du bronze et deux cairns ‘à queue’. Un des cairns en anneau continua à être utilisé comme monument cérémoniel à l'âge du bronze moyen et fut réutilisé comme habitation pendant l'âge du fer. Un assemblage d'objets manufacturés comprenant de la poterie et de la maçonnerie y fut retrouvé. On découvrit également deux perles préhistoriques, l'une en faïence, l'autre d'ambre.

A partir de trois de ces cairns, on obtint dix déterminations au carbone 14 de l'âge du bronze couvrant la période 2490–1120 cal av.J.-C. et deux déterminations de l'âge du fer (370–40cal av. J.-C). Deux colonnes de pollen sur les Northern Downs furent aussi datées. Trait significatif, on obtint une série de huit déterminations d'une seule colonne, ce qui nous fournit des renseignements sur un environnement allant du mésolithique jusqu'au début de la période médiévale. La datation au carbone 14 a montré que l'impact sur la végétation du Down avait commencé pendant le néolithique, avec un défrichement sur une plus grande échelle pendant l'âge du bronze. De vastes herbages ouverts étaient établis dès l'âge du bronze moyen.

On suggère ici que l'utilisation de l'espace à l'intérieur du groupe de cairns était structurée et que les cairns formaient un complexe monumental qui faisait partie d'une plus vaste cosmologie du paysage, qui comportait le groupement de certains types particuliers de monuments ‘et des références aux affleurements rocheux et aux ‘tors’.

Les recherches sur Stannon Down étaient importantes parce qu'elles offraient l'occasion d'étudier un paysage cérémoniel de l'âge du bronze ancien et de reconsidérer comment les peuples de la fin de l'âge du bronze moyen et de l'âge du fer sur Bodmin Moor avaient pu s'implquer avec, et interpréter, la matérialité des monuments préhistoriques antérieurs.

Zwischen 1998–2000 wurden drei archäologische Feldkampagnen von der Cornwall Archäologische Einheit im Imerys Stannon Kaolin Werk in Bodmin Moor durchgeführt. Die ersten beiden Kampagnen umfassten die Ausgrabung einer frühbronzezeitlichen Steinhügelgruppe und von mittelbronze- und mitteleisenzeitlichen Siedlungsresten. In der dritten Kampagne wurde in den nördlichen Downs eine Reihe von Steinhügeln, Feldsystemen und Paläo-Umwelt-Fundstellen ausgewertet. Die Steinhügelgruppe umfasste drei frühbronzezeitliche Steinringe und zwei ringelschwanzförmige Steinhügel. Ein Steinring wurde in der Mittleren Bronzezeit als Kultmonument und während der Eisenzeit als Behausung benutzt. Unter dem entdeckten archäologischen Material fanden sich bronze- und eisenzeitliche Keramik und Mauerwerk, und zwei vorgeschichtliche Perlen aus Fayence und Bernstein. Von drei der Steinhaufen liegen 10 bronzezeitliche (2490–1120 cal BC) und zwei eisenzeitliche (370–40 cal BC) Radiokarbondatierungen vor. Zusätzlich wurden zwei Pollenanalysen von den nördlichen Downs datiert. Eine Serie von 8 Bestimmungen wurde dabei von einer Analyse genommen, die paläo-ökologische Informationen vom Mesolithikum bis zum Frühen Mittelalter lieferten. Die Radiokarbondatierung konnte zeigen, dass die Auswirkung auf die Vegetation in den Downs erst während des Neolithikums begann und sich mit großflächigeren Rodungen in der Bronzezeit fortsetzte. Weites offenes Weideland wurde erst mit der Mittleren Bronzezeit geschaffen. Es wird in diesem Beitrag vorgeschlagen, dass die Nutzung der Flächen innerhalb der Steinhügelgruppen strukturiert war, und dass die Steinhügel ein komplexes Monument bildeten, das sowohl als Bestandteil einer größeren Landschaftskosmologie anzusehen ist, die sowohl Gruppierungen von besonderen Monumenttypen als auch Felsausbisse und Felstürme mit umfasste. Die Arbeiten in den Stannon Downs waren nicht nur wichtig eine frühbronzezeitliche Kultlandschaft zu untersuchen, sondern auch Fragen nachzugehen, wie z.B. in Bodmin Moor die Menschen in der Mittleren Bronzezeit und Eisenzeit damit umgingen und wie sie die Materialität früherer Menschen interpretiert haben.

La Unidad Arqueológica de Corwall desarrolló tres temporadas de trabajo de campo entre 1998–2000 dentro de las Imerys Stannon China Clay Works, en Bodmin Moor. Las dos primeras temporadas se dedicaron a la excavación de un grupo de túmulos de piedra de la Primera Edad de Bronce y actividades domésticas de la Edad del Bronce Media y de la Edad del Hierro Media. La tercera temporada en los Northern Downs se dedicó a la evaluación de varios túmulos de piedra, sistemas de campos, y yacimientos medio-ambientales.

El grupo de túmulos de piedra estaba compuesto por tres túmulos de tipo anillo y dos túmulos “con cola” de la primera Edad del Bronce. Uno de los túmulos tipo anillo continuó en uso como monumento ceremonial hasta la Edad del Bronce Media, siendo después re-utilizado como vivienda en la Edad del Hierro. El alijo de artefactos recuperado incluye cerámica de la Edad del Bronce y Edad del Hierro y piedra trabajada. También se encontraron dos cuentas, una de pasta vitrea, la otra de ámbar.

De tres de los túmulos de piedra se obtuvieron diez dataciones al Carbono-14 de la Edad del Bronce con fechas entre 2490–1120 cal BC y dos de la Edad del Hierro (370–40 cal BC). Dos columnas de polen procedentes de los Northern Downs fueron también datadas. Es significativo que una serie de ocho dataciones se obtuvo solamente de una de las columnas, lo que aportó información medioambiental desde el Mesolítico hasta el comienzo del periodo medieval. La datación al Carbono-14 reveló que el impacto humano en la vegetación del Down comenzó durante el Neolítico, con un proceso de deforestación más intenso durante la Edad del Bronce. En la Edad del Bronce Media los prados de hierba se habían ya establecido extensamente.

Este trabajo sugiere que el uso del espacio dentro del grupo de túmulos estaba estructurado y que los túmulos de piedra formaban un complejo monumental que era parte de una cosmología del paisaje más extensa, que incluía agrupaciones de ciertos tipos de monumento y referencias a afloramientos y promontorios rocosos.

Las investigaciones en Stannon Down son importantes porque permiten estudiar un paisaje ceremonial de la Primera Edad del Bronce y reconsiderar cómo los posteriores habitantes de Bodmin Moor durante la Edad del Bronce Media y la Edad del Hierro pueden haberse relacionado con, e interpretado, la materialidad de los monumentos prehistóricos más antiguos.

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Monuments and Memories Set in Stone: a Cornish Bronze Age Ceremonial Complex in its Landscape (on Stannon Down)

  • Andy M. Jones (a1)

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