Neolithic Stepping Stones: Excavation and survey within the western seaways of Britain, 2008-2014 [Paperback]

Duncan Garrow (Author); Fraser Sturt (Author)

ISBN: 9781785703478 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Year of Publication: 2017 | Language: English 192p, H279 x W215 (mm) b/w

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Neolithic Stepping Stones


The ‘western seaways’ are an arc of sea extending from the Channel Islands in the south, through the Isles of Scilly around to Orkney in the north. This maritime zone has long been seen as a crucial corridor of interaction during later prehistory. Connections across it potentially led, for example, to the eventual arrival of the Neolithic in Britain, almost 1000 years after it arrived on the near continent.

This book’s primary focus is Early Neolithic settlement on islands within the ‘western seaways’ – sites that offer significant insight into the character of the Mesolithic–Neolithic transition in this particular maritime zone. It also explores a series of directly related, wider themes: the nature and effects of ‘island-ness’ in later prehistory; the visibility of material connections across the sea; the extent of Neolithic settlement variability across Britain; and the consequences of geographical biases in research for our understanding of the prehistoric past. At the heart of the book lie the results of three substantial excavations at L’Erée, Guernsey; Old Quay, St Martin’s (Isles of Scilly); and An Doirlinn, South Uist.

Key findings include: the first major Mesolithic flint assemblage recovered from Scilly; one of the most extensively excavated and long-lasting Neolithic/Bronze Age occupation sites in the Channel Islands; the first substantial Neolithic settlement on Scilly; and the longest sequence of Neolithic/Early Bronze Age occupation on a single site from the Outer Hebrides. In order to contextualise the significance of these findings, we also present an extended discussion and broad synthesis of Mesolithic, Neolithic and Bronze Age archaeology on each island group.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
Introduction to the Stepping Stones project
The Mesolithic-Neolithic transition in Britain and Ireland: recent debates
The 'western seaways': characterising palaeo-oceanographic seascapes
The changing paleogeography of Britain and Ireland, c. 8000-1000 BC
Early Neolithic settlement in Britain and Ireland
The Mesolithic/Neolithic/EBA of the Channel Islands, Isles of Scilly and Outer Hebrides
An introduction to the sites: L'Erée, Old Quay and An Doirlinn
Themes: island-ness, connectivity, settlement variability, different traditions of research
2. L'Eree, Guernsey
Introduction to the site at L'Eree
Survey and excavation strategy
Results: the archaeology
Worked stone (polished stone ring + quern/rubber)
Radiocarbon dating
3. Old Quay, St Martins, Isles of scilly
Introduction to the site at Old Quay
Previous work
Research objectives
Excavation strategy and methodology
Results: the archaeology
Worked and utilised stone
Environmental evidence
Radiocarbon dating
4. An Doirlinn, South Uist
Introduction to the site at An Doirlinn
Survey and excavation strategy
Results: the archaeology
Worked stone
Radiocarbon dating
Survey of Orosay
5. Discussion
Contrasting island Neolithics
The Stepping Stones project: discussion
Themes revisited: island-ness, connectivity, settlement variability, different traditions of research

Reviews & Quotes

"This handsome and well-written volume... is a delight to read, with plenty to think about and useful pointers to the many gaps in our current knowledge."
Dr Alison Sheridan
Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society (23/07/2018)

"Nicely described and clearly illustrated, these speculative and successful excavations are contextualised with concise but informative and genuinely important discussions…"
Kevin Brophy
British Archaeology (06/02/2018)

"…this book will be an essential synthesis for those who are interested in the processes of social and economic change between advanced hunter-fisher-gatherers and those islands that adopted the Neolithic package."
George Nash
Current Archaeology (06/12/2017)

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