The First Stones: Penywyrlod, Gwernvale and the Black Mountains Neolithic Long Cairns of South-East Wales [Paperback]

William Britnell (Editor); Alasdair Whittle (Editor)

Regular Price: £38.00

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ISBN: 9781789257397 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Publication: August 2022 | Language: English 160p, H280 x W216 (mm) Colour and b/w
Status: Not yet published - advance orders taken

The First Stones


This book brings together the results of recent research on the Neolithic long cairns lying in the shadow of the Black Mountains in south-east Wales, focusing upon Penywyrlod and Gwernvale, the two best known tombs within the group, previously excavated in the 1970s.

Important results lie in both new site detail and reassessment of the wider context. Small-scale excavation, geophysical survey and geological assessment at Penywyrlod - the largest of the Welsh long cairns - gave further information about the distinctive external and internal architecture of the monument. In turn, this opened the opportunity to reassess the pre-monument sequence at Gwernvale, with re-examination of both Mesolithic and Neolithic occupations, including timber structures and middens, lithic and pottery assemblages, and cereal remains. The frame for wider reassessment is given by fresh chronological modelling both of the monuments themselves, suggesting a sequence from Penywyrlod and Pipton to Ty Isaf and Gwernvale, probably spanning the 38th to 36th centuries cal BC, and of early Neolithic activity in south Wales and the Marches across the same sort of period. A detailed study of the major assemblages of human remains from the Black Mountains tombs includes evidence for diet, trauma and lifestyles of the populations represented. Recent isotope analysis of human remains from the tombs is also reviewed, implying social mobility and migration within local populations during the early Neolithic.

This book makes a significant contribution to the study of tomb building, treatment of the dead, place making, and Neolithisation in western Britain. Viewed within the context of tombs within the Cotswold-Severn tradition as a whole, it leads to an appreciation of the local and regional distinctiveness of architecture and mortuary practice exhibited by the tombs in this area of south-east Wales, emerging as part of the intake of a significant inland area in the early centuries of the Neolithic.

Table of Contents

1 Introduction (Bill Britnell and Alasdair Whittle)
2 Penywyrlod: previous research, recent survey and recent investigations (Bill Britnell)
3 Gwernvale: re-assessment of the pre-cairn evidence (Bill Britnell and Astrid Caseldine, with contributions by Alistair Barclay, Tom Elliot and Elizabeth Walker)
4 Human remains from the Black Mountains long cairns (Mick Wysocki)
5 Isotopic analysis of human remains from Penywyrlod and Ty Isaf (Samantha Neil)
6 Radiocarbon dates and formal models (Seren Griffiths)
7 Discussion: distinctive practices and regional strategies in the early Neolithic of south-east Wales (Alasdair Whittle and Bill Britnell)

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