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Title: Between design and construction : understanding the pre-construction processes involved with the building of British Neolithic and Early Bronze Age ritual monuments and earthworks
Author: Hill, John
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2012
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While the construction techniques associated with building British Neolithic and Early Bronze Age ritual monuments and earthworks have been widely discussed (for instance, the types of tools used for construction, the choice of timber, earth or stone materials and how the particular structure was to be used), archaeologists have often tended to overlook those events which took place before any structure was actually constructed, that is, the pre-construction processes of building a monument or earthwork. In this thesis, I focus on three important processes involved with the pre-construction phases of building structures. That is site selection, site preparation and, most significantly, the setting-out process. Importantly, through a series of archaeology experiments, I have explored in greater detail the processes of the setting-out of monuments and earthworks prior to their construction. In the main body of this thesis I present the results of three case studies in which I re-enacted the setting-out process for reconstructing the ground plans of three different types of prehistoric structures: the Capel Garmon long barrow, Arbor Low henge and the Barbrook I stone circle. The successes of these experiments have allowed me to propose that similar methods of setting out could have been used to construct a number of other Cotswold Severn long barrows, henges and stone circles. The analysis of both the respective archaeology and my successful experiments lead me to propose that during the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age people might have planned the desigus of their monuments and earthworks using rudimentary methods. Consequently, I suggest that there may actually be a "middle ground" option in terms of understanding whether or not structures were deliberately planned, that is between the suggestion that these structures were the result of complex planning, astronomy and mathematics, and the alternative which is that structures were set-out by eye and built with little or no planning at all. In essence my thesis attempts to contribute towards our knowledge of the processes of construction by highlighting both the importance of the pre-construction phases involved with building as well as filling the middle ground regarding the subject of deliberate planning. Indeed, this thesis will contribute towards that debate by offering an original theory that can be proven by experiment.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available