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In the context of unanswered questions about the nature and development of the Late Neolithic in Orkney, we present a summary of research up to 2015 on the major site at the Ness of Brodgar, Mainland Orkney, concentrating on the impressive buildings. Finding sufficient samples for radiocarbon dating was a considerable challenge. There are indications, from both features and finds, of activity pre-dating the main set of buildings exposed so far by excavation. Forty-six dates on thirty-nine samples are presented and are interpreted in a formal chronological framework. Two models are presented, reflecting different possible readings of the sequence. Both indicate that piered architecture was in use by the thirtieth century cal bc and that the massive Structure 10, not the first building in the sequence, was also in existence by the thirtieth century cal bc. Activity associated with piered architecture came to an end (in Model 2) around 2800 cal bc. Midden and rubble infill followed. After an appreciable interval, the hearth at the centre of Structure 10 was last used around 2500 cal bc, perhaps the only activity in an otherwise abandoned site. The remains of some 400 or more cattle were deposited over the ruins of Structure 10: in Model 2, in the mid-twenty-fifth century cal bc, but in Model 1 in the late twenty-fourth or twenty-third century cal bc. The chronologies invite comparison with the near-neighbour of Barnhouse, in use from the later thirty-second to the earlier twenty-ninth century cal bc, and the Stones of Stenness, probably erected by the thirtieth century cal bc. The Ness, including Structure 10, appears to have outlasted Barnhouse, but probably did not endure as long in its primary form as previously envisaged. The decay and decommissioning of the Ness may have coincided with the further development of the sacred landscape around it; but precise chronologies for other sites in the surrounding landscape are urgently required. The spectacular feasting remains of several hundred cattle deposited above Structure 10 may belong to a radically changing world, coinciding (in Model 2) with the appearance of Beakers nationally, but it was arguably the, by now, mythic status of that building which drew people back to it.
Landscape geophysical survey around the small upland ‘henge’ at Yarnbury, Grassington, North Yorkshire revealed few anthropogenic features around the enclosure but did identify a small rectangular structure in the same field. Sample trenching of this feature, radiocarbon and archaeomagnetic dating proved it to be an earlier Neolithic post and wattle structure of a type that is being increasingly recognised in Ireland and the west of Britain. It is the first to be recognised in the Yorkshire Dales and it is argued that the Dales may have been pivotal in the Neolithic for east–west trade as well as pastoral upland agriculture.
A log-coffin excavated in the early nineteenth century proved to be well enough preserved in the early twenty-first century for the full armoury of modern scientific investigation to give its occupants and contents new identity, new origins and a new date. In many ways the interpretation is much the same as before: a local big man buried looking out to sea. Modern analytical techniques can create a person more real, more human and more securely anchored in history. This research team shows how.
The ancient Sri Lankan city of Anuradhapura is currently the subject of one of the world's largest and most intensive archaeological research projects. Having traced its growth from an Iron Age village to a medieval city, the research team now moves to the task of modelling the surrounding landscape. Three seasons of fieldwork have located numerous sites of which the most prominent in the urban period are monasteries. Here is a clue about how the early urban hinterland was managed which has implications well beyond Sri Lanka.
New survey in the Chitral Valley has doubled the number of recorded Gandharan Grave culture sites in the region and extended their geographical range. The numbers and location of sites indicates that the Gandharan Grave culture was well established in the Chitral valley, suggesting that the valley may have been central to this cultural development, rather than marginal.