The Prehistoric Archaeology of Coastal and Maritime Communities
Run by School of History, Law and Social Sciences
20.000 Credits or 10.000 ECTS Credits
Organiser: Dr Gary Robinson
Overall aims and purpose
This module will explore the prehistoric archaeology of the cultural maritime landscapes of Britain and Ireland. The module will introduce students to the development and methods of maritime, island and coastal archaeology. The cultural maritime landscape encompasses the evidence for human engagements with the sea through the study of archaeological evidence in the form of boats, harbours, fish traps and associated coastal structures and buildings. By studying these archaeological resources, themes such as trade and exchange, subsistence, wayfaring and technology will be explored. The module will demonstrate that the sea was central to the lives of past communities and fundamental to our understanding of Prehistoric Europe.
Theme 1: Introduction: The nature of the maritime cultural landscape.
Theme 2: Creating an archaeology of the cultural maritime landscape: landscape archaeology, maritime archaeology, maritime history and maritime anthropology.
Theme 3: Reconstructing prehistoric and historic coastlines.
Theme 4: Boats and seafaring.
Theme 5: Harbours and landing places.
Theme 6: Fishing and hunting.
Theme 7: Trade and exchange networks.
Theme 8: Maritories and prehistoric maritime interactions.
Upper second-class honours There are three grades for upper second-class performance:
B+ (68%) Work will receive a B+ mark if it is consistently strong in: covering the necessary ground in depth and detail; advancing a well structured, relevant, and focused argument; analysis and deployment of an appropriate range of historical and/or archaeological evidence and consideration of possible differences of interpretation; and is correctly presented with references and bibliography where appropriate.
B (65%) Work will receive a B mark if it: is clear that it is based on solid reading; covers the necessary ground in depth and detail; advances a well-structured, relevant, and focused argument; analyses and deploys an appropriate range of historical and/or archaeological evidence and considers possible differences of interpretation; and is correctly presented with references and bibliography where appropriate.
B- (62%) Work will receive a B- mark if it: is clearly based on solid reading; covers the necessary ground in some depth and detail; advances a properly-structured, relevant, and focused argument; analyses and deploys an appropriate range of historical and/or archaeological evidence and considers possible differences of interpretation; and is correctly presented with references and bibliography where appropriate.
Third-class marks There are three grades for third-class performance:
D+ (48%) Work is marked D+ if it: shows evidence of acceptable amounts of reading, but does not go much beyond what was referenced in lecture notes and/or a basic textbook; covers much of the necessary ground but fails to discuss one or a few vital aspects of a topic; deploys relevant material but partly fails to combine it into a coherent whole, or sustains a clear argument only for the greater part of the piece; deploys some evidence to support individual points, but sometimes fails to do so, or shows difficulty in weighing evidence, or chooses unreliable evidence; displays an awareness that the past can be interpreted in different ways but without devoting sustained discussion to this; is for the most part correctly presented but has sections where there are serious problems in presentation, style, spelling, grammar, or paragraph construction (but see section on dyslexia below); and uses references and bibliography where needed but occasionally misunderstands their appropriate use or makes mistakes in their presentation.
D (45%) Work is marked D if it: shows evidence of an acceptable minimum of reading, based partly on lecture notes and/or a basic textbook; covers some of the necessary ground but fails to discuss some large and vital aspects of a topic; deploys some relevant material but partly fails to combine it into a coherent whole or sustains a clear argument for only some parts of the piece; deploys some evidence to support individual points but often fails to do so or shows difficulty weighing evidence or chooses unreliable, atypical or inappropriate evidence; shows some awareness that the past can be interpreted in different ways but the differences will not receive sustained discussion or analysis; is often correctly presented but has sections where there are serious difficulties in presentation, style, spelling, grammar, or paragraph construction (but see section on dyslexia below); and uses references and bibliography where needed but sometimes misunderstands their appropriate use or makes serious mistakes in their presentation.
D- (42%) Work is marked D- if it: shows evidence of an acceptable minimum of reading, based largely on lecture notes and/or a basic textbook; covers parts of the necessary ground but fails to discuss some large and vital aspects of a topic; deploys some potentially relevant material but fails to bring it together into a coherent whole or sustains a clear argument for only parts of the piece; occasionally deploys evidence to back some individual points but often fails to do so or shows difficulty weighing evidence or chooses unreliable, atypical, or inappropriate evidence; may show some awareness that the past can be interpreted in different ways but the differences will not receive sustained discussion or analysis; is in part correctly presented but has sections where there are serious difficulties in presentation, style, spelling, grammar, or paragraph construction (but see section on dyslexia below); and uses references and bibliography where needed but sometimes misunderstands their appropriate use or makes serious mistakes in their presentation.
(v) Pass mark: E (37%)—work not of honours standard Reading: Work may show evidence of reading—but this largely cursory Content: Work discusses a limited number of the basic aspects of a topic, but leaves many out; or shows largely a limited knowledge of those it discusses; or is short weight; or makes major mistakes about the pattern of events. Argument: Work is mostly badly organized; or has a largely unclear argument; or makes an argument which is quite irrelevant to the task in hand. Analysis: Work deploys only a limited amount of evidence and tends more to express opinion without much support from historical fact (or archaeological evidence); or misuses evidence; or indicates only a limited sense that evidence can be interpreted in different ways. Presentation: Work makes some serious mistakes in presentation or writing style or in coherence; or makes some serious errors in grammar, spelling, or paragraph construction (but see guidelines on dyslexia below). Scholarly apparatus: Work prone to misuse references and bibliography, or inconsistent in recognizing when these are essential.
First-class honours There are four grades for first-class performance:
A* (95%) At this level, first-class work earns its mark by showing genuine originality. It may advance a novel argument or deal with evidence which has not been considered before. Such originality of ideas or evidence is coupled with the standards of content, argument, and analysis expected of first-class work graded at A or A+. At this level, the work exhausts relevant secondary material, includes in dissertation work extensive and often unanticipated primary evidence, and betrays no factual or interpretative inaccuracy. It can also show a mastery of theory and deploy hypotheses subtly and imaginatively. In the case of essays and dissertations, work of this standard will be impeccable in presentation and will be publishable.
A+ (87%) At this level, first-class work will also have its argument supported by an impressive wealth and relevance of detail, but will further deploy the evidence consistently accurately and give indications of deploying unexpected primary and secondary sources. It will habitually demonstrate a particularly acute and critical awareness of the historiography and/or archaeological debate, including conceptual approaches, and give a particularly impressive account of why the conclusions reached are important within a particular historical or archaeological debate. It will show a particularly sophisticated approach to possible objections, moderating the line taken in the light of counter-examples, or producing an interesting synthesis of various contrasting positions. It will be original work. The standards of content, argument, and analysis expected will be consistently first-class work. In essays and dissertations standards of presentation will be very high.
A (80%) At this level, first-class work will have its argument supported by an impressive wealth and relevance of detail. It will usually also demonstrate an acute awareness of historiography and/or archaeological debate, and give an impressive account of why the conclusions reached are important within a particular historical or archaeological debate. It may show a particularly subtle approach to possible objections, moderating the line taken 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. In essays and dissertations standards of presentation will be high.
A- (74%) A first-class mark at this level is often earned simply by demonstrating one or more of the features of a good upper-second essay to a peculiar degree, for example presenting a particularly strong organization of argument, strong focus, wide range of reading, engagement with the historiography and/or archaeological debate, depth of understanding, an unobjectionable style, and strong presentation.
C- to C+
Lower second-class honours There are three grades for lower second-class performance:
C+ (58%) Work will receive a C+ mark if it: shows evidence of solid reading, but remains partially superficial; covers the important aspects of the relevant field, but in some places lacks depth; advances a coherent and relevant argument; employs some evidence to back its points; and is presented reasonably well with only a few or no mistakes. It will also contain appropriate references and bibliography, which may, however, be slightly erratic and/or partially insufficient.
C (55%) Work will receive a C mark if it: shows evidence of solid reading, but remains superficial; covers most of the important aspects of the relevant field, but lacks depth; advances a coherent and largely relevant argument; employs some limited evidence to back its points; and is presented reasonably well with only limited mistakes. It will also contain appropriate references and bibliography, which may, however, contain some mistakes or be slightly erratic and/or partially insufficient.
C- (52%) Work will receive a C- mark if it: shows evidence of solid reading, but little knowledge of in-depth studies (for first-year work the student may not have read beyond a few standard works; at second or third year the student may not have read a good selection of journal articles and specialist monographs); covers most of the important aspects of the relevant field, but lacks depth or misses a significant area (for second- and third-year work this may mean that it fails to deploy the historical details found in specialist literature); advances a coherent, and sometimes relevant argument, but drifts away from tackling the task in hand (for example, by ordering the argument in an illogical way, becoming distracted by tangential material, or lapsing into narrative of only partial pertinence); usually employs evidence to back its points, but occasionally fails to do so or deploys an insufficient range; displays an awareness that the past can be interpreted in different ways, but may fail to get to the heart of the central scholarly debate or fully understand a key point (in second- and third-year work this may extend to a failure to discuss important subtleties or ambiguities in the evidence, or to a lack of awareness of the current state of historical or archaeological debate); is reasonably well presented and contains appropriate references and bibliography, but makes some mistakes in presentation or appropriate use.
Demonstrate a critical understanding of different types of archaeological evidence, and the strengths and weaknesses of specific types of evidence.
To provide students with a wide-ranging knowledge and skills base from which they can proceed to further study and research in specialised areas of archaeology, or multi-disciplined areas involving archaeology
Show knowledge of how archaeological evidence can be interpreted in different ways.
To develop in students, through an education in archaeology, a wide range of transferable skills, of value in all fields of employment
To understand and evaluate and interpret the past using a range of archaeological evidence.
To understand that the past is at least partly constructed in the present, and of the contemporary issues of identity and legitimation which this raises.
Critical understand of the historical, political and social context of the social maritime landscape.
Display a detailed knowledge of the main archaeological techniques and methods used in coastal and maritime archaeology.
Detailed understanding of the nature of the archaeological record (sites, monuments, landscapes, artefacts) and to critically analyse it.
Teaching and Learning Strategy
11 x 1 hour seminars
2 x 8 hour fieldtrips
11 x 1 hour lectures
- 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
- appreciating and being sensitive to different cultures and dealing with unfamiliar situations
- critical evaluation of one's own and others' opinions
- engaging with relevant aspects of current agendas such as global perspectives, public engagement, employability, enterprise, and creativity
Resource implications for students
Acheson, J.M. 1981. Anthropology of fishing. Annual Review of Anthropology 10: 275-316.
Adams, J. 2007. Joined-up boats: maturing maritime archaeology, Antiquity 81 (311), 217–220.
Bowen, E. 1972. Britain and the Western Seaways. London: Thames and Hudson. Callaghan, R. and Scarre, C. 2009 Simulating the western sea-ways. Oxford Journal of Archaeology 28 (4): 257-372.
Clark, J.G.D. 1948. The development of fishing in prehistoric Europe. Antiquaries Journal 28: 45–85.
Clark, P. (ed.) 2009. Bronze Age Connections: Cultural Contacts in Prehistoric Europe. Oxford: Oxbow.
Clark, P. (ed.) 2004a. The Dover Bronze Age Boat in Context: Society and Water Transport in Prehistoric Europe. Oxford: Oxbow Books.
Clark, P. (ed.) 2004b. The Dover Bronze Age Boat. London: English Heritage. Cooney, G. 2003. Introduction: seeing land from the sea. World Archaeology 35: 323-328.
Cordell, J. (ed.) 1989. A Sea of Small Boats. Cambridge Massachusetts: Cultural Survival.
Crumlin-Pedersen, O. 2010. Archaeology and the Sea in Scandinavia and Britain: A personal account, Maritime Culture of the North, 3, Roskilde: The Viking Ship Museum.
Davis, S. 1989. Aboriginal tenure of the sea in Arnhem Land, Northern Australia. In J. Cordell (ed.) A Sea of Small Boats, 37-59. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cultural Survival.
Denford, G.T. and Farrell, A.W. 1980. The Caergwrle Bowl - a possible prehistoric boat model. International Journal of Nautical Archaeology 9 (3): 183–192.
Durrenberger, P. and Pálsson, G. 1987. Ownership at sea: fishing territories and access to sea resources. American Ethnologist 14 (3): 508-522.
Flatman, J. 2011. Places of special meaning: Westerdahl’s comet, “agency” and the concept of the “maritime cultural landscape”. In B. Ford (ed.) The Archaeology of Maritime Landscapes 311-330. New York: Springer.
Ford, B. 2011. The Archaeology of Maritime Landscapes. New York: Springer. Fowler, P.J. and Thomas, C. 1979. Lyonesse revisited: the early walls of Scilly. Antiquity 53: 175–189.
Fry, M.F. 2000. Coiti: Logboats from Northern Ireland. Antrim: Environment and Heritage Service Department of the Environment (Northern Ireland Archaeological Monograph No. 4).
Fulford, M., Champion, T. and Long, A. 1997. England’s Coastal Heritage: A Survey for English Heritage and the RCHME. London: English Heritage Archaeological Report 15.
Gill, A. 1996. Superstitions: Folk Magic in Hull’s Fishing Community. Beverley: Hutton Press.
Hornell, J. 1938. British Coracles and Irish Curraghs. London: Society for Nautical Research.
Hornell, J. 1946. Water Transport, Origin and Early Evolution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Ilves, K. 2012. Do ships shape the shore? An analysis of the credibility of ship archaeological evidence for landing site morphology in the Baltic Sea. The International Journal of Nautical Archaeology 41.1: 94–105.
Johnstone, P. 1988. The Seacraft of Prehistory. London: Routledge.
Knight, M. 2012. Must Farm/Must Read: Articulating Britain’s Lost Prehistoric Landscape. Cambridge: Cambridge Archaeological Unit. Available at . [Accessed 16/12/2012].
Lamont-Brown, R. 1972. Phantoms, Legends, Customs and Superstitions of the Sea. London: Patrick Stephens.
Lanting, J.N. and Brindley, A.L. 1996. Irish logboats and their European context. Journal of Irish Archaeology 7: 85-95.
MacCartháigh, C. (ed) 2008. Traditional Boats of Ireland. Cork: The Collins Press. Martin, A. 1980. The Ring-Net Fishermen. Edinburgh: John Donald.
McErlean, C., McConkey, R. and Forsythe, W. 2002 Strangford Lough, an Archaeological Survey of the Maritime Cultural Landscape. Belfast: Blackstaff Press (Northern Ireland Archaeological Monographs No.6).
McGrail, S. 1978. Logboats of England and Wales with Comparative Material from European and Other Countries. Oxford: British Archaeological Reports (British Series 89).
McGrail, S. 1998. Ancient Boats in North-West Europe: The Archaeology of Water Transport to AD1500 (re-vised edition). London: Longman.
McGrail. S. 2001. Boats of the World: From the Stone Age to Medieval Times. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
McGrail, S. 2004. North-west European ocean going boats before AD400. In P.Clark (ed.) The Dover Bronze Age Boat in Context: Society and Water Transport in Prehistoric Europe, 51-66. Oxford: Oxbow.
Mowat, R.J.C. 1996. The Logboats of Scotland, With Notes on Related Artefact Types. Oxford: Oxbow monograph 68.
Mulville, J. 2002. The role of cetacea in prehistoric and historic Atlantic Scotland. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 12 (1): 34-48.
Nayling, N. and Caseldine, A. 1997. Excavations at Caldicot, Gwent: Bronze Age Palaeochannels in the Lower Nedern Valley. London: Council for British Archaeology Research Report 108.
Needham, S. 2009. Encompassing the Sea: maritories and Bronze Age maritime interactions. In P.Clarke (ed.) Bronze Age Connections: Cultural Contact in Prehistoric Europe, 12-37. Oxford: Oxbow.
Pálsson, G. 1991.Coastal Economies, Cultural Accounts: Human Ecology and Icelandic Discourse. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
Patton, M. 1991. Stone axes of the Channel Islands: Neolithic exchange in an insular context. Oxford Journal of Archaeology 10 (1): 33-43.
Petersen, H.C. 1986. Skin Boats of Greenland: Ships and Boats of the North Volume 1. Roskilde: Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde/National Museum of Denmark/Greenland Provincial Museum.
Pickard, C. and Bonsall, C. 2007 Deep-sea fishing in the European Mesolithic: fact or fantasy? European Journal of Archaeology 7(3): 273–290.
Ransley, J. 2005. Boats are for boys: queering maritime archaeology. World Archaeology 37 (4): 621–629.
Rowley-Conwy, P. 2011 Westward Ho! The Spread of Agriculturalism from Central Europe to the Atlantic. Current Anthropology 52(S4): 431-451.
Sage, M. 2006. February preparations for boat construction: Inupiat heritage and traditional hunting. Available at http://www.nativetech.org/inupiat/skinboatindex.html. [Accessed 16/12/2012].
Sheppard, T. 1926. Roman remains in North Lincolnshire. Transactions of the East Ridings Antiquarian Society 25: 170-174.
Strachan, D. 2010. Carpow in Context: A Late Bronze Age Logboat from the Tay. Edinburgh: Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.
Thomas, A.C. 1985. Exploration of a Drowned Landscape: Archaeology and History of the Isles of Scilly. London: Batsford.
Van de Noort, R. 2006. Argonauts of the North Sea - a social maritime archaeology for the 2nd millennium BC. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 72: 267–287.
Van de Noort, R. 2012. North Sea Archaeologies: A Maritime Biography, 10,000 BC - AD 1500. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Waddell, J. 1991/1992. The Irish Sea in Prehistory. The Journal of Irish Archaeology 6:29-40.
Westerdahl, C. 1992. The maritime cultural landscape. The International Journal of Nautical Archaeology 21(1): 5-14.
Courses including this module
Compulsory in courses:
- V1V9: BA History with Archaeology with International Experience year 4 (BA/HAIE)
- V1V4: BA History with Archaeology year 3 (BA/HAR)
- VVV2: BA Philosophy and Religion and Welsh History year 3 (BA/PRWH)
- VP23: BA Welsh History and Film Studies year 3 (BA/WHFS)
- VW2H: BA Welsh History and Music year 3 (BA/WHMU)
- LVH2: BA Welsh History/Sociology year 3 (BA/WHS)
- V401: MArts Archaeology year 3 (MARTS/ARCH)
Optional in courses:
- 3QV1: BA History and English Literature year 3 (BA/ELH)
- P3V1: BA Film Studies and History year 3 (BA/FSH)
- V100: BA History year 3 (BA/H)
- V103: BA History and Archaeology year 3 (BA/HA)
- VV41: BA Herit, Archae & Hist year 3 (BA/HAH)
- VV42: BA Heritage, Archaeology & History with International Exp year 4 (BA/HAHIE)
- MVX1: BA History/Criminology year 3 (BA/HCR)
- LV11: BA History/Economics year 3 (BA/HEC)
- V10F: BA History [with Foundation Year] year 3 (BA/HF)
- RV11: BA History/French year 4 (BA/HFR)
- V1W6: BA History with Film Studies year 3 (BA/HFS)
- V1W7: BA History with Film Studies with International Experience year 4 (BA/HFSIE)
- RV21: BA History/German year 4 (BA/HG)
- 8B03: BA History (with International Experience) year 4 (BA/HIE)
- RV31: BA History/Italian year 4 (BA/HIT)
- RV32: BA History and Italian (with International Experience) year 3 (BA/HITIE)
- V1P5: BA History with Journalism year 3 (BA/HJ)
- 8S11: BA History with Journalism (with International Experience) year 3 (BA/HJIE)
- VW13: BA History and Music year 3 (BA/HMU)
- VW14: BA History and Music with International Experience year 3 (BA/HMUIE)
- RV41: BA History/Spanish year 4 (BA/HSP)
- LVJ1: BA Cymdeithaseg/Hanes year 3 (BA/HSW)
- V140: BA Modern & Contemporary History year 3 (BA/MCH)
- V130: BA Mediaeval and Early Modern His year 3 (BA/MEMH)
- WV33: Music & Hist & Welsh Hist (IE) year 4 (BA/MHIE)
- VVV1: BA Philosophy and Religion and History year 3 (BA/PRH)
- LV31: BA Sociology/History year 3 (BA/SH)
- LV41: BA Social Policy/History year 3 (BA/SPH)
- LVK1: BA Polisi Cymdeithasol/Hanes year 3 (BA/SPWH)
- QV51: BA Cymraeg/History year 3 (BA/WH)
- V1VK: BA Welsh History with Archaeology year 3 (BA/WHA)
- V104: BA Welsh History and Archaeology year 3 (BA/WHAR)
- VV12: BA Welsh History/History year 3 (BA/WHH)
- V102: MArts History with International Experience year 3 (MARTS/HIE)
- V101: MArts History year 3 (MARTS/HIST)