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Title: Beakers and pre-existing monuments : aspects of ritual in Neolithic and Bronze Age Britain
Author: Morton, Anna Elizabeth Whitmore
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1990
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This thesis is concerned with the nature of ritual practice during the Late Neolithic - Early Bronze Age periods in Britain. It has been suggested that a change from community to individual emphasis can be detected in the archaeological record. In order to delineate this change, an analysis of the 'ritual deposition' of beaker pottery on causewayed enclosure and hcnge monuments was undertaken, as it was considered that these deposits would potentially provide the best structured (both spatially and temporally) information. Part 1 considers the typology, chronology, and spatial distribution of beaker pottery. It is concluded that beakers can be divided into three groups: early, middle and late. These are distinguished typologically, and have statistical significance in both relative and absolute chronology. Further, they arc spatially segregated, forming bands of early and later types, with the early types having a markedly coastal distribution. Other contemporary artefact types are discussed, and broad chronological horizons are proposed. Part 2 begins with a discussion of the nature of ditch deposits on henge monuments and causewayed enclosures, in which the possible effects of activities such as cleaning, rccutting and refilling are considered. Beaker deposits and their position within the site sequences are then evaluated. It is suggested that there arc two patterns of deliberate deposition common to both monument types: 'scattered' (incomplete vessels, often distributed across the site), and 'deliberate burial' (complete vessels, often in clusters). Both arc located in the middle - upper silts, frequently associated with ditch rccutting or other site modifications. Early beakers on southern sites may accompany the lithicisation of timber structures, while late beakers on northern sites arc linked with the creation of a 'burial' place, by the addition of cists or a cairn. Beaker burials in the barrow cemeteries around Stonehenge are briefly considered, and in the conclusion an overall sequence is proposed. This begins with 'scattered' deposits and early beakers, primarily on causewayed enclosures (in keeping with Neolithic site-use), followed by a mixture of 'scattered' and 'deliberate' deposits and middle beakers, on both site types, contemporary with the growth of the beaker burial, and finally 'deliberate' deposits of late beakers on hcnges, contemporary with burials of the Wesscx Culture (Bronze Age individual burial).
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available