The Prehistoric Archaeology of the Irish Sea Zone (8000 - 1600 BC)
Run by School of History, Law and Social Sciences
40.000 Credits or 20.000 ECTS Credits
Organiser: Dr Gary Robinson
Overall aims and purpose
The later prehistoric archaeological record of the Irish Sea zone share many common traits (e.g. the presence of megaliths) that suggest it might be considered a legitimate area of analysis. This module will explore the archaeological record of the Irish Sea zone (primarily Ireland, Cornwall, Wales and Scotland) for the period 8000 - 1600 BC, a period that saw major changes in climate, subsistence, settlement and mortuary practices. The module will draw from this rich prehistoric record in order to consider the competing interpretations of interaction and isolation across the Irish sea and along the western sea board.
Themes explored 1. The chronology of later prehistoric Britain and Ireland 2. The Irish Sea Zone as a unit of analysis 3. Mobility and sedintism 4. Monumentality 5. The nature of ritual practice 6. Prehistoric journeys 7. The nature of settlement 8. Materials and material culture 9. Mortuary practices and body-centred research
Good students (B- to B+) will demonstrate a solid level of achievement and depth of knowledge in all the criteria in the C- to C+ range, and will in addition exhibit constructive engagement with different types of historical writing and historiographical interpretation. Ideas will be communicated effectively and written work will include a good range of sources/reading and demonstrate a clear understanding of the issues and of the existing interpretations expressed in a well-structured, relevant, and focused argument. Students at the top end of this band will engage with and critique the ideas that they come across, and synthesise the various interpretations they find to reach their own considered conclusions. Written work will be correctly presented with references and bibliography where appropriate.
Students in this band (C- to C+) will demonstrate a satisfactory range of achievement or depth of knowledge of most parts of the module, and will make successful, if occasionally inconsistent, attempts to develop those skills appropriate to the study of History at undergraduate level. In the case of the written assessments, the answers will attempt to focus on the question, although might drift into narrative, and will show some evidence of solid reading and research. The argument might lose direction and might not be adequately clear at the bottom of this category. Written work will be presented reasonably well with only limited errors in grammar, punctuation, and referencing, and not to the extent that they obscure meaning.
Excellent students (A- and above) will show strong achievement across all the criteria combined with particularly impressive depths of knowledge and/or subtlety of analysis. In written work, they will support their arguments with a wealth of relevant detail/examples. They will also demonstrate an acute awareness of the relevant historiography and give an account of why the conclusions reached are important within a particular historical debate. They may show a particularly subtle approach to possible objections, nuancing their argument in the light of counter-examples, or producing an interesting synthesis of various contrasting positions. Overall, the standards of content, argument, and analysis expected will be consistently superior to top upper-second work. Standards of presentation will also be high.
Gain a detailed understanding of the chronology of the Later Prehistory of the Irish Sea zone
Understand the range of different societies, sites and material culture.
Become familiar with a range important sites dating to the period and understand developments and changes in key regions of the study area.
Gain a detailed understanding of theoretical debates relating to the Later Prehistoric archaeology of the Irish Sea zone and be aware of the most recent ideas and developments in the field.
Be able to identify and review key themes and developments, drawing on relevant sites, projects and regional studies.
Recognise and understand differences between competing interpretations within Later Prehistoric archaeology.
The ability to form and present arguments about ongoing discourses, differing interpretations and theoretical approaches.
Demonstrate that they can relate the developments of the Later Prehistoric archaeology of the Irish Sea Zone to the wider frame of British and European prehistory.
Teaching and Learning Strategy
One 2 hour seminar per week
Two one day (field trips (2 x 6 hrs)
- Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
- Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
- Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
- Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
- Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
- Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
- Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
- Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
- Safety-Consciousness - Having an awareness of your immediate environment, and confidence in adhering to health and safety regulations
- Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
- Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
- Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
- Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others
Subject specific skills
- problem solving to develop solutions to understand the past
- understanding the complexity of change over time; in specific contexts and chronologies
- being sensitive to the differences, or the "otherness" of the past, and the difficulty to using it as a guide to present or future action
- being sensitive to the role of perceptions of the past in contemporary cultures
- producing logical and structured arguments supported by relevant evidence
- planning, designing, executing and documenting a programme of research, working independently
- marshalling and critically appraising other people's arguments, including listening and questioning
- demonstrating a positive and can-do approach to practical problems
- demonstrating an innovative approach, creativity, collaboration and risk taking
- presenting effective oral presentations for different kinds of audiences, including academic and/or audiences with little knowledge of history
- preparing effective written communications for different readerships
- making effective and appropriate forms of visual presentation
- making effective and appropriate use of relevant information technology
- making critical and effective use of information retrieval skills using paper-based and electronic resources
- collaborating effectively in a team via experience of working in a group
- critical evaluation of one's own and others' opinions
Resource implications for students
Barclay, G. 2001. Metropolitan and Parochial / Core and Periphery: a Historiography of the Neolithic of Scotland. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 67, 1-18. Barclay, G. and Brophy, K. (ed). Regional Diversity in the Neolithic of Britain and Ireland. Oxford: Oxbow. Bowen, E.G. 1970. Britain and the British Seaways.13-28. In Moore, D. 1970. The Irish Sea Province in Archaeology and History. Cardiff: Cambrian Archaeological Society. Bowen, E.G. 1972. Britain and the Western Seaways. London Bradley, R. 2007. The Offshore Islands (Chapter 1). The Prehistory of Britain and Ireland. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Buchanan, R.H. 1989. The Irish Sea: The Geographical Framework 1-11. In M.McCaughan nad J. Appleby (eds.) The Irish Sea: Aspects of Maritime History. Belfast. Cummings, V. and Fowler, C. 2003 Introduction: Locating the Neolithic of the Irish Sea. 1-8. In Cummings, V. and Fowler, C. 2003. The Neolithic of the Irish Sea: Materiality and Traditions of Practice. Oxford: Oxbow. Clark, J. G. D. 1977. The economic context of dolmens and passage-graves in Sweden. In V. Markotic (ed) Ancient Europe and the Mediterranean: studies presented in honour of Hugh Hencken). Warminster: Aris & Phillips, pp. 35–49 Crawford, OG.S. 1912. The Distribution of Early Bronze Age Settlements in Britain. Geographical Journal 40, 299-303. Davies. M. 1946. The Diffusion and Distribution Pattern of Megalithic Monuments of the Irish Sea and Northern Channel Coastlands. Antiquaries Journal 26, 38-60 Fluere, H.J. 1915. Archaeological Problems of the West Coast of Britain. Archaeologia Cambrensis, 15, 405-420. Fox, C. 1932. The Personality of Britain. Cardiff: National Museum of Wales. Herity, M. The Later Prehistoric Migrations Across the Irish Sea.29-37. In Moore, D. 1970. The Irish Sea Province in Archaeology and History. Cardiff: Cambrian Archaeological Society Mackinder, H. 1902. Britain and the British Seas. New York: Appleton Moore, D. 1970. The Irish Sea Province in Archaeology and History. Cardiff: Cambrian Archaeological Society Waddell, J. 1991. The Irish Sea in Prehistory. Journal of Irish Archaeology 6, 29- 40