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Title: The beginnings of agriculture in Great Britain : a critical assessment
Author: Kenney, Jane
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1993
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A summary of the literature on the beginnings of agriculture in Europe in general, and Great Britain in particular, provides a theoretical background to the discussion. Models of relationships between hunter-gatherers and farmers are further investigated by a survey of the relevant anthropological literature. Chapter 3 explores the nature of radiocarbon dating, and using a catalogue of relevant dates from Great Britain, assesses what interpretations can be drawn. There is also a brief discussion of Irish dates as these influence interpretations of the British data. The chapter concludes that there is no radiocarbon dating evidence for Neolithic-type cultures in Britain (and possibly not in Ireland) before the middle of the fourth millennium bc, but that the significance of this in relation to the beginnings of agriculture is unclear. The poor quality of the dates, and scarcity of late Mesolithic dates severely hinder clear conclusions. The palaeoenvironmental evidence is then studied, with particular concentration on palynology. The nature of woodland disturbances and relevance of the elm decline to early agriculture are discussed. Early Neolithic agricultural practices, and the evidence for them are investigated, and the interpretational problems associated with finds of early cereal-type pollen grains are assessed. The relationship of late Mesolithic and early Neolithic site distributions to each other and the landscape is discussed, with the conclusion that while some trends can be identified taphonomic processes largely obscure any original patterns. The nature of site distribution patterns and their change over the Transition is further explored in chapter 6 by a case study of the Dee Valley, Grampian. This involved the testing of known distribution patterns by fieldwalking and an analysis of lithic scatters to assess the problems of recognising scatters of specific periods.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available