Analysis of radiocarbon dates has established the chronological contexts of three kinds of Neolithic monument in Britain: long mounds or long cairns, causewayed enclosures, and cursuses. It is more difficult to appreciate how such structures developed over time. The building of a barrow or cairn was sometimes the final act in a place that had already experienced a longer history. The construction of the monument brought activities to an end, and the site was effectively closed. Individual sequences were shorter than once thought but might be repeated at different locations over several hundred years.
On the other hand, the construction of causewayed enclosures according to a widely accepted template occurred almost simultaneously. Once those earthworks were established some went out of use, but a few others were adapted and changed so that they could play an increasing variety of roles over a longer period. The same contrasts are illustrated by cursuses. Timber structures in the north had finite histories before they decayed or were destroyed by fire, whilst earthworks had a wider distribution and enjoyed a longer currency. A similar approach might shed light on later monuments, including henges, stone circles, and round barrows. It is important to consider how the chronologies of all these structures are related to past conceptions of time.