A Research Framework for the Archaeology of Wales

Southeast Wales – Early Prehistoric

22/12/2003

 

 

Background and purpose

 

 

NEOLITHIC

Strengths

Settlement

                Excavated enclosures at Coed-y-Cymdda and Beech Court Farm, Ewenny

                Excavated upland site at Cefn Glas

                Occupation site at Ogmore-By-Sea
                Sant-y-Nyll structure below cairn

                Trostrey hearth, finds

Funerary and ritual

                Well-established distribution of chambered tombs

                Excavated evidence from many chambered tombs

                Dietary/skeletal work Goldcliff, Parc le Breos

                Also cave burials

Artefacts

                Some provenance data from implement petrology group work

                Large number of single axe finds

                Smaller number of established flint scatters

                Limited precision for many reported finds

Weaknesses

Settlement

                Lack of data about subsistence/transhumance

Other settlement evidence found beneath later cairns: more than chance?

Funerary and ritual sites

                Possible henge and causewayed enclosure only known from APs

Artefacts

                Little material with firm contexts/sites

                Low resolution of provenance data

 

Biases

Settlement

                Nature of settlement: permanent?  Mobile/shifting?

                Low visibility

                Limited economic/dietary evidence

                Little wetland evidence from Levels

Funerary and ritual sites

                Chambered tombs highly visible and characteristics: other types misdated?

                Possibly further examples to be identified in uplands

Artefacts

                Emphasis on polished stone axes as readily identifiable

                Detailed understanding restricted to few sites

Key issues

                Nature of Neolithic settlement/land use

                Relationship between chambered tombs and other sites

                Skeletal and dietary evidence

                Upland/lowland differences (if any); use of marine resources and wetlands

                Sourcing and use of flint and other stone

 

EARLY BRONZE AGE

Strengths

Settlement

                Peterstone palaeochannel post structure

Funerary and ritual

                Very numerous cairns/ barrows ring cairns, currently being revisited

                Numerous cairn excavations producing human bone, pottery and metalwork

                Fewer stone circles, standing stones

                Burials and other activity in caves

Artefacts

                Some EBA hoards

                Some flints from Levels

Weaknesses

Settlement

No evidence apart from structures below cairn at Colts Hill

                Midden sites poorly dated and understood

Funerary and ritual

                Equivocal evidence for date and function of cairnfields

                Lack of dating evidence for cairns: EBA date is assumed

                Few modern studies of skeletal material

Artefacts

                Low precision of flint data

 

Biases

Settlement

                Is it recognisable?

Funerary and ritual

                'Classic' cairns excavated

                Few studies of cairns as groups

Artefacts

                Metalwork over-represented due to metal detecting

                Undateable flint assemblages may be EBA

Key issues

                Domestic sites: what? where?

                Single cairns/multiple/cairnfields: relationship and function

                Lack of chronology

                Link between landuse and environmental change in uplands

                Limited wetland evidence: animal hoof prints, charcoal within peat

 

Outcomes

 

Review of site types: what is 'settlement'?  What is a causewayed enclosure?

 

SMR and other databases: nature of recording (period and site type)

 

SMR needs to reflect recent work to act as research tool (integration at data collection stage?)

 

Palaeoenvironmental analysis (site and general)

 

Review of archive material held in museums: potential for scientific analysis

 

Approach to landscape: field walking, remote sensing etc. rather than single-site excavation

 

Coordination of research activities

 

 

 

Paper prepared by Martin Locock (GGAT)

 

 

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