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Title: The origin and function of the earthen long barrows of Northern Europe
Author: Midgley, Magdalena S.
ISNI:       0000 0001 1598 3212
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1984
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The earthen long barrow of Northern Europe is one of many elements within a widespread tradition of large-scale monuments of funerary association witnessed in many regions of Europe throughout the Neolithic period. A considerable body of theoretical concepts has arisen from the various attempts to interpret the origins and use of these monuments The area of the North European Plain, diverse both geographically and environmentally, was inhabited by a variety of Late Mesolithic hunting and fishing communities, some of which achieved a considerable degree of economic stability. Contemporaneous events to the south of the Plain involved settlement by LBK groups and the introduction of a farming economy to the loess lands and similar environments in Central Europe. Prolonged contacts between these two economically and culturally diverse systems led ultimately to the adoption of a farming economy in Northern Europe, and with it to the emergence of a new cultural complex - the TvichterbeoherkuZtur. One of the characteristic manifestations of this culture was the development of a tradition of large funerary monuments - the earthen long barrows. These barrows have long been a source of interest to antiquarians and from the mid-19th century were regularly, albeit not thoroughly, investigated. The barrows are found in several concentrations across the North European Plain. The monuments are characterised by a number of commonly recognised features. Earthen mounds - occasionally exceeding one hundred metres in length - are set within stoneand/or timber-built enclosures. Complex interior arrangements involve a variety of structures whose purpose may not always be obvious but which nevertheless cannot be regarded as purely utilitarian in character. Recent discoveries in some areas confirm a long-held notion that the barrows contain within them remains of grave chambers, greatly varying in design and construction. Evidence today suggests that a probable prototype of the external form of the earthen long barrow may be found in the local domestic architecture of the Late LBK, while the burial ritual was firmly rooted within the North European Mesolithic tradition. But the interpretation of their function centres equally on their social and symbolic significance within the communities of the TRB culture.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: European archaeology