Between 5000 BC and the onset of Roman rule in 43 AD, society in Britain was transformed from dispersed gatherer-hunters, leaving few cultural remains, to centralised tribal chiefdoms with complex material culture and region-wide connections. In this course we trace the prehistoric development of pre-Roman British society through critical evaluation of the archaeological record. Core archaeological debates will be covered, including those about the rate, importance and mechanism of agricultural spread in Britain and the Atlantic fringe; the genesis, role and meaning of causewayed enclosure, henge and burial monuments in the Neolithic and Bronze Age; the pace and direction of human-induced environmental change in Britain and the clearance of the great forests; the role and importance of evolving metal technologies; the emergence of urbanism and regional connections in the Iron Age. We will also discuss how identity and ideology were created in the past and how they have been incorporated into modern beliefs and political debate. Though focused on Britain, the course will compare and contrast its prehistory with that of adjacent European countries, especially Ireland and the Atlantic fringe.
3,000 word essay (50%), tutorial presentation (15%), debate contribution (10%) and annotated bibliography (25%).
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Normally offered in alternate years
2 hours lectures and one hour tutorial per week.
Requisite and Incompatibility
Hunter, J and Ralston, I (eds). The archaeology of Britain: An Introduction, Routledge, 1999.
Darvill, T. Prehistoric Britain, Batsford, 1987.
Darvill, T, Stamper, P and Timby, J. England: an Oxford archaeological guide to sites from earliest times to AD 1600, Oxford University Press, 2002.
Pryor, F. BritainBC: Life in Britain and Ireland Before the Romans, Harper Collins, 2003.
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- 6 units
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