Barrows at the Core of Bronze Age Communities: Petersfield Heath Excavations 2014-18 in their Regional Context [Paperback]

Stuart Needham (Author); George Anelay (Author)

ISBN: 9789464260434 | Published by: Sidestone Press | Year of Publication: 2021 | Language: English 680p, H280 x W210 (mm) 300fc / 280bw

Other Formats

Hardback - ISBN: 9789464260441 - £ 225.00

Barrows at the Core of Bronze Age Communities


Barrows at the Core of Bronze Age Communities argues exactly that. Round barrows do not just represent the death side of Early Bronze Age communities placed in set-a-side ritual landscapes, but were instead central to existence in many ways. This study of the Rother Region, where the Weald meets the Wessex massif, reports the results of the People of the Heath project, 2014–18. It integrates a wealth of data from comprehensive field study of all relevant sites in the region with that from excavations into one of its major cemeteries – Petersfield Heath, Hampshire. Fourteen of 21 surviving barrows were sampled by excavation, one of the fullest records for such a cemetery in modern times. In addition to diverse burial rites, the site yielded a range of ‘other significant deposits’ and totally novel insights into the organic artefact repertoire thanks to mineral replacement.

There are substantial repercussions for the conventional classification of barrows and in this region the key difference between mound barrows and enclosure barrows is seen to have a socio-cultural background. This and other differences of approach to the siting and aggregation of barrows contribute to the reconstruction of 16 settled communities across the region. These emerge from a strong Mesolithic to Neolithic presence, the latter documented for the first time, and evidence including solstitial alignments suggests direct continuity to the Middle Bronze Age fieldscapes of the region.

This book is supported by a separate volume containing an extensive body of supplementary information and evaluation. Together they contain much new for those researching the period, early burial practices and the prehistoric occupation of the western Weald. They will also galvanise debates about variations in the character of barrowscapes across Britain and the place of the Wessex barrow foci.

Table of Contents

Forword (by Richard Bradley)
List of contributors
Abbreviations & archive deposition
Image credits
Summary of the volume
French language summary
German language summary
Section 1: The History and Archaeology of Petersfield Heath
Chapter 1: People of the Heath Project
Background to the project, objectives and strategy
Defining the regional study area
Previous archaeological work in the Rother Region
Round barrows, the Chalcolithic and the Bronze Age
Modern excavations of barrow cemeteries
Preliminary research for the excavations
Geology and soil profiles of the Heath
Structure of the volume
Chapter 2: The Archaeology of Petersfield Heath: the State of Knowledge
Cartographic history of Petersfield Heath barrow cemetery
Previous investigations and finds
Size, distribution and structure of the cemetery
Chapter 3: The Heath in Documented History
Early history (by Robert Banbury)
Military and recreational use of the Heath (by David Jeffery)
Section 2: Petersfield Heath Excavations
Chapter 4: In Situ Mesolithic Sites
Site 1
Site 11
Site 13
Site 18
Site 19
Site 21
Site 23
Site 24
52 Heath Road
78 Heath Road
Distribution of Mesolithic flintwork across the Heath
Chapter 5: Early Bronze Age Enclosure Barrows
Barrow 4, north-eastern subgroup
Barrow 12, north-western subgroup
Barrow 14, south-western subgroup
Barrow 19, south-western subgroup
Barrow 24, north-western subgroup
Chapter 6: Early Bronze Age Mound Barrows
Barrow 1, north-eastern subgroup
Barrow 2, north-eastern subgroup
Barrow 3, north-eastern subgroup
Barrow 5, north-eastern subgroup
Barrow 6, north-eastern subgroup
Barrow 7, north-eastern subgroup
Barrow 8, north-eastern subgroup
Barrow 9, north-eastern subgroup
Barrow 10, north-eastern subgroup
Barrow 11, north-western subgroup
Barrow 13, south-western subgroup
Barrow 15, south-western subgroup
Barrow 18, south-western subgroup
Barrow 20, south-western subgroup
Barrow 22, north-western subgroup
Barrow 23, north-western subgroup
Chapter 7: Modern and Natural Sites
Site 16
Site 17
Site 21
Section 3: Burials and Other Significant Deposits
Chapter 8: Burials in Graves and Coffins
Barrow 11, central burial zone (by Stuart Needham, George Anelay and Gill Campbell)
Barrow 13, central burial and associated features (by Stuart Needham and George Anelay)
Barrow 19, earlier central burial [405] (by George Anelay and Stuart Needham)
Barrow 19, later central burial [406] (by George Anelay, Stuart Needham and Carol Hartzenberg)
Chapter 9: Urn Burials (by Jane King and Stuart Needham)
Lifting and preparing the urns for micro-excavation
Micro-excavation methodology
Urn 1, Barrow 8
Urn 2, Barrow 19 NE quadrant
Urn 3, Barrow 19 centre
Urn 4, Barrow 14 NW quadrant
Chapter 10: Other Significant Deposits
Artefact deposits
Ecofact deposits (charcoal and other wood)
Section 4: Excavated Finds, Environmental Evidence and Dating
Chapter 11: Bone Studies
Cremated human bone (by Emily Carroll)
Burnt animal bone fragments (by Polydora Baker)
Strontium isotopes on cremated human remains (by Rick Schulting, John Pouncett and Christophe Snoeck)
Chapter 12: Prehistoric Flintwork and a Review of the Regional Mesolithic
Excavated flintwork assemblages from Petersfield Heath (by Anthony Haskins)
The Mesolithic of the Rother Region (by Anthony Haskins and Robert Banbury)
Chapter 13: Artefact Studies
Flintwork from burials: making arrow and fire (by Clément Nicolas)
Worked and unworked stone (by Stuart Needham, with stone identifications by David Bone and a contribution from Peter Leeming)
Fossils (by Peter Leeming)
Prehistoric pottery and other fired-clay objects (by Ann Woodward, Stuart Needham and Claire Copper)
Romano-British to modern pottery (by Duncan H. Brown)
Bronze Age metalwork (by Stuart Needham and Sarah Paynter)
Bronze Age beads (by Alison Sheridan)
Mineral-replaced and stratigraphically implied organics (by Stuart Needham)
Worked and unworked wood (by Stuart Needham)
Chapter 14: Environmental Studies
Past vegetation cover and human environment of Petersfield Heath (by Michael Simmonds, Nicholas Branch, Deborah Cousins and Kevin Williams)
Wood and charcoal remains (by Dana Challinor)
Geoarchaeological studies (by Matthew Canti and Stuart Needham)
Chapter 15: Specialist Dating Evidence and Site Phasing (by Stuart Needham, Peter Marshall and George Anelay)
Radiocarbon dating and Bayesian modelling of the Early Bronze Age dates
Optically stimulated luminescence dating (by Mark Bateman)
Site phasing (by Stuart Needham)
Section 5: Barrows in the Rother Region
Chapter 16: The Regional Barrow Survey
Potential confusions: other man-made mounds/enclosures and natural landscape features
Classification of barrow morphologies in the Rother Region
Aspects of detailed barrow morphology
Overall composition of Rother Region barrows
Mound dimensions
Chapter 17: Barrows in the Landscape: Density, Topographic Settings, Formations and Alignments (by Stuart Needham and Sabine Stevenson)
Regional environment
Topographic setting of barrows
Barrow-group formations
Solstitial alignments
Mound-size distributions
Chapter 18: Patterns of Destruction and Survival in the Barrowscape (by Stuart Needham and Sabine Stevenson)
Land-use history and barrow survival
Zonal analysis
Section 6: Synthesis
Chapter 19: Bronze Age Funerary Deposits and Structures in the Rother Region
Chalcolithic and transitional burials from the wider region (c. 2450‑2200/2150 BC)
Early burials and grave goods from the Rother Region (c. 2200/2150‑1950 BC)
Later burials and grave goods from the Rother Region (c. 1950‑1550 BC)
Poorly dated Early Bronze Age burials
Middle Bronze Age burials (c. 1600‑1150 BC)
Barrow structures
Chapter 20: Neolithic and Bronze Age Occupation of the Rother Region (by Stuart Needham and Sabine Stevenson)
Vegetation background
Neolithic activity
Field systems, house sites and settlements
Flintwork assemblages
Diagnostic early metal age flintwork
Bronze Age metalwork
Chapter 21: Identifying Early Bronze Age Communities
Principles of analysis
Barrow-based differentiations
Ancestral guardianship of the land
Chapter 22: Petersfield Heath, Enclosure Barrows and Cultural Differentiation
Early occupants of Petersfield Heath and its environs
Enter the barrow builders
After the barrows
Communities, livelihoods and population
The barrow gradient and cultural backgrounds
Petersfield Heath: setting, cosmology and position in the regional structure
Postscript: Barrow 31

Reviews & Quotes

"It is truly a model report and can, without reservation, be described as the most comprehensive on a barrow cemetery to-date."
David Field
Current Archaeology (13/12/2022)

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