Landscape Archaeology & Geoarchaeology
Pub Date: 31 Jan 2023
Imprint: Windgather Press
Jutting out some thirty miles into the Irish Sea, from the western edge of Snowdonia, the Llŷn Peninsula, in north-west Wales, is renowned for its stunning beaches and countryside, with much of its landscape designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The peninsula is also home to a remarkable and abundant collection of archaeological sites and monuments, some of national importance, which bear witness to the ancient societies who once inhabited this narrow finger of land on the western fringe of Britain.
This abundantly illustrated book examines this rich corpus of archaeological evidence, beginning with the faint but fascinating traces that Mesolithic hunter-gatherers have left in the landscape of the Llŷn Peninsula and ending in the early medieval period, with about 9,000 years of human habitation thus covered in its pages. In the course of the book, we will encounter a wealth of fascinating archaeological evidence, which includes impressive megalithic tombs and an axe ‘factory’ from the Neolithic; burial mounds and mysterious standing stones from the Early Bronze Age; rural settlements and magnificent hillforts occupied in the Iron Age and Romano–British period; and memorial stones erected by early Christian communities.
Much more besides will be found in the pages of this volume, which throws considerable light on the ancient peoples of the Llŷn Peninsula, and the rich archaeological heritage of this special part of the United Kingdom, which has much to offer those who are interested in the distant lives of our ancestors.
Pub Date: 15 Sep 2022
Imprint: Oxbow Books
Series: Studying Scientific Archaeology
This book charts and explains how human activities have shaped and altered the development of soils in many parts of the world, taking advantage of five decades of soil analytical work in many archaeological landscapes from around the globe. The core of this volume describes and illustrates major transformations of soils and the processes involved in these that have occurred during the Holocene and how these relate to human activities as much as natural causes and trajectories of development, right up to the present day. This is done in two ways: first by examining a number of major processes and impacts on the landscape such as Holocene warming and the development of woodland, clearance and agricultural activities, and second by examining the trajectories of these changes in soil systems in different palaeo-environmental situations in several diverse parts of the world. The transformations identified are relevant to prevalent themes of today such as over-development and soil, land and environmental degradation and resilience. The studies articulated relate to Britain, southeastern Europe, the Mediterranean basin, East Africa, northern India and Peru in South America.
Pub Date: 15 Nov 2021
Imprint: Windgather Press
Renowned environmental historian I.G. Simmons synthesises detailed research into the landscape history of the coastal area of Lincolnshire between Boston and Skegness and its hinterland of Tofts, Low Grounds and Fen as far as the Wolds. With many excellent illustrations Simmons chronicles the ways in which this low coast, backed by a wet fen, has been managed to display a set of landscapes which have significant differences that contradict the common terminology of uniformity, calling the area 'flat' or referring to everywhere from Cleethorpes to King's Lynn as 'the fens'.
These usually labelled 'flat' areas of East Lincolnshire between Mablethorpe and Boston are in fact a mosaic of subtly different landscapes. They have become that way largely due to the human influences derived from agriculture and industry. Between the beginning of Norman rule and the advent of pumped drainage, a number of significant changes took place.
The author has accumulated information from Roman times until the beginnings of fossil-fuel powered drainage, bringing together both scientific data and documentary evidence including medieval and early modern documents from the National Archive, Lincolnshire Archives, Bethlem Hospital and Magdalen College, Oxford, to explore the little-known archives of regional interest.
Pub Date: 15 Nov 2021
Imprint: Windgather Press
This volume aims to restore the reputation of Thomas White, who in his time was as well respected as his fellow landscape designers Lancelot 'Capability' Brown and Humphry Repton. By the end of his career, he had produced designs for at least 32 sites across northern England and over 60 in Scotland. These include nationally important designed landscapes in Yorkshire such as Harewood House, Sledmere Hall, Burton Constable Hall, Newby Hall, Mulgrave Castle as well as Raby Castle in Durham, Belle Isle in Cumbria and Brocklesby Hall in Lincolnshire. He has a vital role in the story of how northern English designed landscapes evolved in the 18th century.
The book focuses on White's known commissions in England and sheds further light on the work of other designers such as Brown and Repton, who worked on many of the same sites. White set up as an independent designer in 1765, having worked for Brown from 1759, and his style developed over the next thirty years. Never merely a 'follower of Brown', as he is often erroneously described, his designs for plantations in particular were much admired and influenced the later, more informal styles of the picturesque movement.
The improvement plans he produced for his clients demonstrate his surveying and artistic skills. These plans were working documents but at the same time works of art in their own right. Over 60 of his beautifully-executed coloured plans survive, which is a testament to the value his clients placed on them. This book makes available for the first time over 90% of the known plans and surveys by White for England. Also included are plans by White's contemporaries, together with later maps, estate surveys and contemporary illustrations to understand which parts of improvement plans were implemented.
Pub Date: 10 Aug 2021
Imprint: Windgather Press
The landscape of the north-east of Scotland ranges from wild mountains to undulating farmlands; from cosy, quaint fishing coves to long, sandy bays. This landscape witnessed the death of MacBeth, the final stand of the Comyns earls of Buchan against Robert the Bruce and the last victory, in Britain, of a catholic army at Glenlivet. But behind these momentous battles lie the quieter histories of ordinary folk farming the land - and supping their local malts.
Colin Shepherd paints a picture of rural life within the landscapes of the north-east between the 13th and 18th centuries by using documentary, cartographic and archaeological evidence. He shows how the landscape was ordered by topographic and environmental constraints that resulted in great variation across the region and considers the evidence for the way late medieval lifestyles developed and blended sustainably within their environments to create a patchwork of cultural and agricultural diversity. However, these socio-economic developments subsequently led to a breakdown of this structure, resulting in what Adam Smith, in the 18th century, described as 'oppression'.
The 12th-century Renaissance, the Protestant Reformation and the Industrial Revolution are used here to define a framework for considering the cultural changes that affected this region of Scotland. These include the dispossession of rights to land ownership that continue to haunt policy makers in the Scottish government today. Whilst the story also shows how a regional cultural divergence, recognised here, can undermine 'big theories' of socio-political change when viewed across the wider stage of Europe and the Americas.
Pub Date: 15 Jun 2021
Imprint: Sidestone Press
There has been an increasing archaeological interest in human-animal-nature relations, where archaeology has shifted from a focus on deciphering meaning, or understanding symbols and the social construction of the landscape to an acknowledgement of how things, places and the environment contribute with their own agencies to the shaping of relations. This means that the environment cannot be regarded as a blank space that landscape meaning is projected onto. Parallel to this, the field of environmental humanities poses the question of how to work with the intermeshing of humans and their surroundings. To allow the environment back in as an active agent of change, means that landscape archaeology can deal better with issues such as global warming, an escalating loss of biodiversity as well as increasingly toxic environment. However, this does not leave human agency out of the equation. It is humans who reinforce the environmental challenges of today. The scholarly field of the humanities deal with questions like how is meaning attributed, what cultural factors drive human action, what role is played by ethics, how is landscape experienced emotionally, as well as how concepts derived from art, literature, and history function in such processes of meaning attribution and other cultural processes. This humanities approach is of outmost importance when dealing with climate and environmental challenges ahead and we need a new landscape archaeology that meets these challenges, but also that meets well across disciplinary boundaries. Here inspiration can be found in discussions with scholars in the emerging field of Environmental Humanities.
Pub Date: 31 Dec 2020
Imprint: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research
Series: Fragility and Sustainability - Studies on Early Malta, the ERC-funded FRAGSUS Project
The ERC-funded FRAGSUS Project (Fragility and sustainability in small island environments: adaptation, cultural change and collapse in prehistory, 2013-18), led by Caroline Malone (Queens University Belfast) has explored issues of environmental fragility and Neolithic social resilience and sustainability during the Holocene period in the Maltese Islands. This, the first volume of three, presents the palaeo-environmental story of early Maltese landscapes.
The project employed a programme of high-resolution chronological and stratigraphic investigations of the valley systems on Malta and Gozo. Buried deposits extracted through coring and geoarchaeological study yielded rich and chronologically controlled data that allow an important new understanding of environmental change in the islands. The study combined AMS radiocarbon and OSL chronologies with detailed palynological, molluscan and geoarchaeological analyses. These enable environmental reconstruction of prehistoric landscapes and the changing resources exploited by the islanders between the seventh and second millennia bc.
The interdisciplinary studies combined with excavated economic and environmental materials from archaeological sites allows Temple landscapes to examine the dramatic and damaging impacts made by the first farming communities on the islands' soil and resources. The project reveals the remarkable resilience of the soil-vegetational system of the island landscapes, as well as the adaptations made by Neolithic communities to harness their productivity, in the face of climatic change and inexorable soil erosion. Neolithic people evidently understood how to maintain soil fertility and cope with the inherently unstable changing landscapes of Malta. In contrast, second millennium bc Bronze Age societies failed to adapt effectively to the long-term aridifying trend so clearly highlighted in the soil and vegetation record. This failure led to severe and irreversible erosion and very different and short-lived socio-economic systems across the Maltese islands.
Pub Date: 01 Jul 2020
Imprint: Oxbow Books
From generation to generation, people experience their landscapes differently. Humans depend on their natural environment: it shapes their behaviour while it is often felt that deities responsible for both natural benefits and natural calamities (such as droughts, famines, floods and landslides) need to be appeased. We presume that, in many societies, lakes, rivers, rocks, mountains, caves and groves were considered sacred. Individual sites and entire landscapes are often associated with divine actions, mythical heroes and etiological myths. Throughout human history, people have also felt the need to monumentalise their sacred landscape. But this is where the similarities end as different societies had very different understandings, believes and practises. The aim of this new thematic appraisal is to scrutinise carefully our evidence and rethink our methodologies in a multi-disciplinary approach. More than 30 papers investigate diverse sacred landscapes from the Iberian peninsula and Britain in the west to China in the east. They discuss how to interpret the intricate web of ciphers and symbols in the landscape and how people might have experienced it. We see the role of performance, ritual, orality, textuality and memory in people’s sacred landscapes. A diachronic view allows us to study how landscapes were ‘rewritten’, adapted and redefined in the course of time to suit new cultural, political and religious understandings, not to mention the impact of urbanism on people’s understandings. A key question is how was the landscape manipulated, transformed and monumentalised – especially the colossal investments in monumental architecture we see in certain socio-historic contexts or the creation of an alternative humanmade, seemingly ‘non-natural’ landscape, with perfectly astronomically aligned buildings that define a cosmological order? Sacred Landscapes therefore aims to analyse the complex links between landscape, ‘religiosity’ and society, developing a dialectic framework that explores sacred landscapes across the ancient world in a dynamic, holistic, contextual and historical perspective.
Pub Date: 27 Apr 2020
Imprint: Society of Antiquaries of London
Series: Reports of the Research Committee of the Society of Antiquaries of London
The Vale of York, in North Yorkshire, has been used and shaped by communities since the end of the last Ice Age to the modern day. Its earliest, prehistoric features chart the way in which household groups shifted from mobile to more sedentary forms of occupation over time, culminating in the creation of landscape divisions from the end of the Bronze Age, and then recognisable field systems during the Iron Age. Throughout all periods, a variety of activity types on the landscape has been evident in the landscape, taking significantly different forms in different contexts: water management; the creation of boundaries; agricultural production; structural development, from domestic houses to larger monuments; exchange and consumption; and mortuary practices plus other ritual activity. This volume takes a thematic approach to these activities, revealing much about the area's development.
Providing a thematic analysis of the excavated evidence from the Heslington East area, this volume combines the results of commercial, student training and local community fieldwork between 2007 and 2013. A concluding chapter discusses temporal change by looking at key points of transition in landscape activity in the area and interpreting one of the largest exposures of prehistoric and Roman activity in the immediate hinterland of Eboracum, a major Roman town in Britain.