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Neolithic Causewayed Enclosures and Later Prehistoric Farming: Duality, Imposition and the Role of Predecessors at Kingsborough, Isle of Sheppey, Kent, UK

  • Michael J. Allen (a1), Matt Leivers (a2), Chris Ellis (a2), Simon Stevens, Susan Clelland, Alex Bayliss, Chris Butler, Rowena Gale, Alex Gibson, Jacqueline I. McKinley, Stephanie Knight, Lorraine Mepham, Robert Scaife and Chris J. Stevens...

Abstract

Developer-funded archaeology on the Isle of Sheppey resulted in the discovery of not one but two Neolithic causewayed enclosures on the same hilltop in very close (c. 300 m) proximity. In the later Bronze Age enclosures and cremation cemeteries were constructed immediately to the east, followed by Iron Age enclosures and, ultimately, field systems dating to the later Iron Age onwards.

A radiocarbon programme enabled the chronological sequence and hiatus between all of these events to be discerned, but the majority of this paper explores the physical, chronological, and social relationship between the two Neolithic causewayed enclosures. These were of different forms and, although on the same hilltop, they each seem to have had distinctly different viewsheds over the Thames and the Swale respectively. There are subtle, but potentially significant, differences in the material culture and deposition which allow exploration of the possible functions and role(s) of the two largely contemporaneous sites. Questions may be addressed such as whether they performed the same functions for two communities or had separate and distinct roles for a single community. Beyond the Neolithic, the paper also explores the nature of the later use of the hilltop. The Bronze Age enclosures, though agricultural in function, clearly seem to respect their Neolithic predecessors invoking a remembrance of space, which is lost by the Iron Age. The shift away from the special function of this landscape in the Neolithic to a subsequent agricultural use is explored, as is the hiatus in use and subsequent re-use of the area.

Des études archéologiques, financées par des promoteurs, sur l'île de Sheppey, se sont conclues par la découverte de deux enclos néolithiques à chaussée empierrée sur le même sommet de colline et très proches l'un de l'autre (env. 300 m). A l'âge du bronze final, on construisait les enclos tout à fait à l'est et ils s'accompagnaient d'inhumations à incinération, s'en suivirent des enclos de l'âge du fer, et finalement, des systèmes de champs à partir de l'âge du fer final.

Un programme de datation au carbone 14 a permis de saisir la suite chronologique et les ‘hiatus’ de chacun de ces événements, mais cette étude se concentre sur l'exploration des relations physiques, chronologiques et sociales entre les deux enclos néolithiques à chaussée empierrée. Ils étaient de formes différentes, et bien que tous deux aient été situés sur le même sommet, ils semblaient chacun jouir d'une perspective de toute évidence bien différente sur la Tamise et la Swale respectivement. On a relevé des différences ténues, mais problablement chargées de sens, dans la culture matérielle et les pratiques de dépôt, ce qui nous permet d'explorer les fonctions et rôle(s) possibles de ces deux sites néolithiques en grande partie contemporains. Est-ce qu'ils assuraient les mêmes fonctions pour deux communautés ou assumaient-ils des rôles séparés et distincts pour une communauté unique? L'étude examine également la nature de l'utilisation du sommet plus tard. Les enclos de l'âge du bronze, bien qu'assumant une fonction agricole, semblaient de toute évidence respecter leurs prédécesseurs néolithiques, invoquant une mémoire du lieu qui avait disparu à l'âge du fer. On explore comment on s'est éloigné de la fonction spéciale de ce paysage au néolithique pour se tourner, par la suite, vers une utilisation agricole, ainsi que le cycle d'utilisation et de réutilisation des lieux.

Eine durch Bauunternehmer finanzierte archäologische Untersuchung auf der Isle of Sheppey in Kent führte zur Entdeckung von zwei auf einer Bergkuppe unmittelbar nebeneinander (in ca. 300 m Entfernung) gelegenen Neolithischen Segmentgrabenanlagen. In der späteren Bronzezeit wurden östlich in unmittelbarer Nachbarschaft sowohl weitere Grabenanlagen als auch Brandbestattungen angelegt, denen wiederum eisenzeitliche Grabenanlagen und schließlich ab der späteren Eisenzeit Feldsysteme folgten.

Mit Hilfe eines Radiokarbon-Datierungsprogramms konnte deren chronologische Abfolge und ein jeweiliger Hiatus zwischen diesen Ereignissen hergestellt werden. In diesem Artikel konzentrieren wir uns aber auf die Analyse der physischen, chronologischen und sozialen Verhältnisse der beiden Neolithischen Segmentgrabenanlagen. Diese Anlagen weisen unterschiedliche Formen auf und schienen, trotz der vergleichbaren Lage, sehr unterschiedliche Sichtbereiche, zum einen über die Themse und zum anderen über die Swale, besessen zu haben. Weiterhin lassen sich feine, aber wahrscheinlich signifikante Unterschiede in der materiellen Kultur und in den Deponierungssitten feststellen, die es uns erlauben, die möglichen Funktionen und Bedeutung dieser weitgehend gleichzeitigen Anlagen näher zu analysieren. Es stellt sich dabei die Frage, ob die Anlagen von zwei unterschiedlichen Gemeinschaften benutzt wurden oder ob sie von einer einzigen Gemeinschaft unterschiedlich benutzt wurden und deshalb unterschiedliche Funktionen besaßen? Im Beitrag untersuchen wir auch die Frage nach der zeitlich nachfolgenden Nutzung dieser Lokalität. Hierbei wird herausgestellt, dass die nachfolgenden bronzezeitlichen Grabenanlagen, die ebenfalls von einer ackerbaulichen Gemeinschaft genutzt wurden, räumlich eindeutig und damit wahrscheinlich auch inhaltlich auf die Erinnerung an die Neolithischen Anlagen Rücksicht nahmen, die dann aber zur Eisenzeit verloren ging. In diesem Zusammenhang wird sowohl die Veränderung der besonderen Bedeutung dieser Landschaft vom Neolithikum zu den nachfolgenden ebenfalls ackerbaulichen Perioden untersucht als auch die zyklische, fortführende Nutzung dieser Lokalität diskutiert.

Investigaciones arqueológicas financiadas por promotores inmobiliarios en la Isla de Sheppey, Kent, han puesto al descubierto dos recintos neolíticos del tipo “causeway” en la cima de la misma colina, muy próximos el uno al otro (c. 300 m). Durante la última Edad del Bronce, se construyeron recintos en las inmediaciones hacia el este, así como varios enterramientos de cremación. En la Edad del Hierro aparecen nuevos recintos y finalmente se han encontrado sistemas de campo que pueden datarse desde la última Edad del Hierro en adelante.

Un programa de dataciones al carbono-14 permitió el discernimiento de la secuencia cronológica y del hiato entre cada uno de estos sucesos, pero este trabajo se centra en la exploración de las relaciones físicas, cronológicas y sociales entre los dos recintos neolíticos de tipo “causeway”. Estos tenían distinta forma y, a pesar de estar ambos situados en la misma colina, cada uno parece tener vistas claramente distintas – sobre los ríos Támesis y Swale respectivamente. Existen diferencias sutiles, pero probablemente significativas, en la cultura material y prácticas de deposición, que permiten la exploración de la posible función y papel(es) de estos dos yacimientos neolíticos en gran parte contemporáneos. ¿Desempeñaron las mismas funciones para dos comunidades o tuvieron papeles distintos y separados para una única comunidad? Este trabajo también explora la naturaleza del uso de la cima de la colina en épocas posteriores. Los recintos de la Edad del Bronce, aunque agrícolas en función, parecen respetar claramente a sus predecesores neolíticos evocando una memoria del espacio, que se pierde en la Edad del Hierro. El trabajo explora tanto el cambio de una función especial de este paisaje en el Neolítico a su posterior uso agrícola, como el ciclo de uso y reutilización de la localidad.

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