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Studies of early fourth-millennium BC Britain have typically focused on the Early Neolithic sites of Wessex and Orkney; what can the investigation of sites located in areas beyond these core regions add? The authors report on excavations (2011–2019) at Dorstone Hill in Herefordshire, which have revealed a remarkable complex of Early Neolithic monuments: three long barrows constructed on the footprints of three timber buildings that had been deliberately burned, plus a nearby causewayed enclosure. A Bayesian chronological model demonstrates the precocious character of many of the site's elements and strengthens the evidence for the role of tombs and houses/halls in the creation and commemoration of foundational social groups in Neolithic Britain.
Evidence for working rock crystal, a rare form of water-clear type of quartz, is occasionally recovered from prehistoric sites in Britain and Ireland, however, very little has been written on the specific methods of working this material, and its potential significance in the past. This paper presents the first synthesis of rock crystal evidence from Britain and Ireland, before examining a new assemblage from the Early Neolithic site of Dorstone Hill, Herefordshire. This outlines a methodology for analysing and interpreting this unusual material, and, through comparison with the flint assemblage, examines the specific uses and treatments of this material. Far from being used to make tools, we argue the distinctive and exotic rock crystal was being used to create distinctive and memorable moments, binding individuals together, forging local identities, and connecting the living and the dead.
Survey and sampling at the classic single-entranced henge monument at Castle Dykes, in North Yorkshire, has revealed traces of circular timber structures, interpreted as later prehistoric roundhouses, in the immediate vicinity and within the henge. Coring of the waterlogged silts of the internal ditch has produced considerable environmental data: plant, insect, pollen and charcoal remains. A small jet bead was also recovered. Radiocarbon dates from short-lived materials unexpectedly indicate that the monument was constructed in the Iron Age, which prompts a review of other potentially Iron Age ‘henges’ further afield.
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.
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