draft Research Agenda for Later Prehistory
This brief paper attempts to
synthesize common threads running through the regional papers presented at a
series of seminars in the autumn of 2002. Underlying themes are evident in both
the existing knowledge and the gaps within our understanding. Regional
variation is evident and any research agenda should operate against the
background of these regional differences and if necessary, target specific
Throughout the process it is
evident that there are issues which will move the subject forward but are more
contextual than thematic.
- Better use of the development control process
and archaeology within the planning system would help further knowledge.
We must however be constantly aware of the limitations of archaeology
within the planning process. Where Planning Guidance Wales and TAN 60/96
relating to Archaeology are there to inform the planning process. The
emerging research agenda will input into archaeological briefs produced as
part of the planning process but cannot be the drivers of this process.
Throughout the development control process has as its aim to ‘bring about
sensible solutions to the treatment of sites with archaeological remains
and reduce the areas of potential conflict between development and
preservation.’ (TAN 60/96)
- There should be a synthesis of information
contained in the ‘grey’ literature produced as a result of archaeological
planning work to bring it to a wider public and to facilitate an
understanding of it.
- SMRs can be enhanced in order to have the
ability to produce more refined information.
- Publication of unpublished excavations should
be facilitated: This includes Moel y Gaer, Rhosesmor, Dinorben, Dale
Promontory Fort and Strawberry Hill.
- Much of what is encompassed in the research
agenda will require excavation to achieve answers.
- It is imperative that issues relating to how
the aims of the research agenda will be achieved and resourced are
addressed. Mechanisms should be put in place to fund this core
archaeological work. Existing sources will not be adequate. Cadw’s brief
is primarily to enhance the schedule and organizations like HLF will not
generally fund research work
although they may fund awareness raising and public dissemination of
information. The research agenda will also have implications for the
training of practitioners.
- Chronological frameworks need to be established
- C14 dating of stratigraphic sequences
- Dating of ceramic sequences where possible
- In some areas hillforts are better understood than
others. This imbalance should be addressed by the use of targeted
projects. Recent work at Castell Henllys illustrates the value of this
approach. Initially non-intrusive survey work, topographic, geophysical
etc should be used to target excavation which could answer questions
relating to function and chronological framework. Valuable results are
being achieved from initial non-intrusive survey work defensive cropmarks
sites in S Ceredigion and some of the hillforts of the Clwydian
- Very few undefended sites are known
- What is the relationship between defended and
- Few Late Bronze age settlement sites have been
identified. Examination of known Iron Age sites could aid this
- Links with the preceding BA should be studied
- Few field systems are known those that are
should be further studied with the aim of dating and identifying form and
- Landscapes should be studied to identify
features contemporary with known settlements and the organization of their
- Evidence across Wales is largely absent we
should look more closely at burial sites of the earlier periods
- Research into both metal mining sites and
identification of production sites is needed. Peter Crew’s work here is
exemplary but also indicates the time spans and resources needed to answer
- Much more environmental work should be carried
out, both on site and off site to identify past landscapes.
- Sieving on sites should take place as routine,
detailed analysis of material found should follow.
- Need to answer questions about food production,
diet, use of organic materials, landscape etc
- Artefact studies have been neglected in the
past this should be addressed. Artefacts provide important information
about people’s lifestyles and activities, particularly trade/exchange.
- Accepted view is that there is a lack of
artefacts in this period however long-term excavations at Castell Henllys
has shown that over time a large corpus of artefacts is amassed.
- Findspots of any new hoards or finds should be
archaeologically investigated as a matter of course
- We need to look at the interface between the
Bronze Age and Iron Age and of the Iron Age and the Roman period. The
study of Romano-British material culture and settlement can tell us about
earlier societies. Place name evidence, language and myths and legends
perhaps have a role to play here.
Paper prepared by Fiona Gale
Council) 30th August 2004
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