A variable proportion of finds from the Neolithic and Chalcolithic of ‘Old Europe’ has come from places outside settlements, cemeteries, production sites, ritual sites, or caves. Such finds tend to be described as ‘chance/isolated/single/stray’ finds or, when in groups, as ‘hoards’. The frequent, modernist cause invoked for these finds is that they were either ‘hidden’ in times of mortal danger, represented a ‘gift to the gods’, or simply ‘lost’. One reason for these explanatory shortcomings is the over-attention to the types of objects deposited in the landscape and the frequent lack of attention to the often-distinctive place of deposition. We believe that we have misnamed, overlooked, or not accurately characterised an entire class of sites, which we term ‘landscape deposition sites’, whose defining feature was the transformation of a place by the deposition of a significant object or group of objects to create a qualitatively different place. The creation of such landscape deposit sites varied in time and space throughout Old Europe, but all sites were affected by this new dimension of the extended cultural domain.
In this article, we consider the interpretations of metal deposition in North-west Europe and the light they shed on an earlier and geographically different region. The primary aim of this paper is an exploration of the variable relationships between landscape deposit sites and the coeval finds made in special deposits in settlements and cemeteries in the 5th and 4th millennia bc, which will lead to proposed new interpretations of landscape deposition sites.