Later Prehistoric Communities
Run by School of History, Philosophy and Social Sciences
20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits
Organiser: Dr Kate Waddington
Overall aims and purpose
The later Bronze Age and earlier Iron Age (c. 1500 BC - 400 BC) were formative periods in the development of complex societies in Britain. Distinctive elements of the archaeology include the creation of: permanent settlements (based on distinctive roundhouses and settlement enclosures); landscape enclosures (e.g. field systems and linear boundaries); communal foci (e.g. hillforts and middens); new technological practices (e.g. ironworking); conspicuous consumption (e.g. hoards); ceremonial depositional practices (e.g. special pit deposits); elaborate burial practices (e.g. chariot burials); and complex exchange networks based around the movement of elaborate artefacts and natural resources (e.g. gift exchange and trading commodities). All of these elements reflect alternative mechanisms for defining communities and establishing new kinds of relationships in this period. The course will examine the shifting dynamics underlying society over a period of a millennium in British later prehistory, via an exploration of settlement architectures, land organisation and material culture practices. The course aims to provide students with a critical understanding of the archaeological evidence for different periods and regions and the main theoretical interpretations which have been proposed by different academics. The course will focus on a crucial concept - that archaeology is not simply a record of past activities, it is a material manifestation of the need to create and structure relationships between people in the past.
- Introduction: the main themes and chronologies;
- Home is where the hearth is: later Bronze Age settlements;
- Dividing the land: later Bronze Age land tenure;
- Metals make the world go round: later Bronze Age practices;
- The Earliest Iron Age transition (800-600BC): shifting practices and technologies;
- Creating communities: making middens (c. 900 - 450 BC);
- Creating communities: making hillforts (c. 900 - 450 BC);
- Corporate groups: earlier Iron Age farmsteads and enclosures;
- The substantial roundhouses of Scotland;
- The rise of the individual: Iron Age burial practices;
- The first towns? The developed hillforts of Wessex (c. 450 ¿ 100 BC).
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 primary data and give an account of why the conclusions reached are important within a particular archaeological 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.
Threshold students (D- and D) will have done only a minimum of reading, and their work will often be based partly on lecture notes and/or basic textbooks. They will demonstrate in their written assessments some knowledge of at least parts of the relevant field, and will make at least partially-successful attempts to frame an argument which engages with archaeological theories/interpretation, but they will fail to discuss some large and vital aspects of a topic; and/or deploy only some relevant material but partly fail to combine it into a coherent whole; and/or deploy some evidence to support individual points but often fail to do so and/or show difficulty weighing evidence (thereby relying on unsuitable or irrelevant evidence when making a point). Alternatively or additionally, the presentation of the work might also be poor, with bad grammar and/or punctuation, careless typos and spelling errors, and a lack of effective and correct referencing.
C- to C+
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.
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 archaeological writing and 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.
Demonstrate knowledge of the chronological schemes which have been established for the later Bronze Age and earlier Iron Age of Britain.
Demonstrate knowledge and critical understanding of the nature of the archaeological evidence of later prehistoric Britain (e.g. site types; material culture).
Evaluate competing interpretations of social change and social models that have been offered by archaeologists.
Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the regional characteristics of the archaeological evidence.
Show an awareness of the changes in society and social organisation which took place during the later Bronze Age and earlier Iron Age of Britain
|EXAM||Two-hour pre-seen exam||50|
Teaching and Learning Strategy
Eleven one-hour lectures
Ten one-hour seminars
|Practical classes and workshops||
One six-hour fieldtrip
- Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
- 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.
- Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
- Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
Subject specific skills
- problem solving to develop solutions to understand the past
- understanding the complexity of change over time; in specific contexts and chronologies
- 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
- making critical and effective use of information retrieval skills using paper-based and electronic resources
- critical evaluation of one's own and others' opinions
General text books on the period (key texts are underlined) Barrett, J.C. & Bradley, R. (Eds) 1980. Settlement and Society in the British Later Bronze Age. Oxford: BAR. Barber, M. 2003. Bronze and the Bronze Age. Gloucestershire: Tempus Publishing Ltd. Barrett, J. C. 1994. Fragments from antiquity. Oxford: Blackwell. Bevan, B. (Ed.) 1999. Northern Exposure: interpretative devolution and the Iron Ages in Britain. Leicester: School of Archaeological Studies, University of Leicester. Bradley, R. 2007. Prehistoric Britain and Ireland. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Brück, J. (Ed.) 2001. Bronze Age Landscapes: tradition and transformation. Oxford: Oxbow. Champion, T. & Collis, J. (Eds) 1996. The Iron Age in Britain and Ireland: recent trends. Sheffield: J.R. Collis. Cunliffe, B. 2005. Iron Age communities in Britain: an account of England, Scotland and Wales from the seventh century BC until the Roman conquest. London: Book Club Associates. Gwilt, A. & Haselgrove, C. (Eds) 1997. Reconstructing Iron Age societies: new approaches to the British Iron Age. Oxford: Oxbow. Haselgrove, C. and Pope, R. (eds) 2007. The Earlier Iron Age in Britain and the near Continent. Oxford: Oxbow Books. Hunter, J. & Ralston, I. (Eds) 1999. The Archaeology of Britain: from the Upper Palaeolithic to the Industrial Revolution. London: Routledge. Parker Pearson, M. 1993. Bronze Age Britain. London: Batsford. Pollard, J. (ed). 2008. Prehistoric Britain. Oxford: Blackwell Sharples, N.M. 2010. Social relations in later prehistory: Wessex in the first millennium BC. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Barfield, L. and Hodder, M. 1987. Burnt mounds as saunas, and the prehistory of bathing. Antiquity 61, 370-9.
Barrett, J.C. 1980. The pottery of the later Bronze Age in lowland England. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 46, 297-319.
Barrett, J.C. 1989. Food, gender and metal: questions of social reproduction. In M.L.S. Sørensen and R. Thomas (eds), The Bronze Age – Iron Age transition in Europe: aspects of continuity and change in European societies, c. 1200-500 BC, 204-20. Oxford: British Archaeological Reports (International Series 483).
Barrett, J.C. 1999. The mythical landscapes of the British Iron Age. In W.Ashmore, and B. Knapp, (eds), Archaeologies of Landscape: contemporary perspectives, 253-65. Oxford: Blackwell Books.
Barrett, J.C. and Bradley, R. 1980. The later Bronze Age in the Thames Valley. In J.C. Barrett and R. Bradley (eds), Settlement and society in the British later Bronze Age, 247-69. Oxford: British Archaeological Reports (British series 83).
Barrett, J.C., Bradley, R., and Green, M. 1991. Landscape, monuments and society: the prehistory of Cranborne Chase. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Barrett, J.C. and Needham, S.P. 1989. Production, circulation and exchange: problems in the interpretation of Bronze Age bronzework. In J.C. Barrett and I.A. Kinnes (eds), The archaeology of context in the Neolithic and Bronze Age: recent trends, 127-40. Sheffield: University of Sheffield.
Bell, M. 1990. Brean Down excavations 1983-87. London: English Heritage.
Bowden, M., and McOmish, D. 1987. The required barrier. Scottish Archaeological Review 4, 76-84.
Bradley, R. 1990 . The passage of arms: an archaeological analysis of prehistoric hoards and votive deposits. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Bradley, R. 2005. Ritual and domestic life. London: Routledge.
Bradley, R., Entwistle, R., and Raymond, F. 1994. Prehistoric land divisions on the Salisbury Plain: the work of the Wessex linear ditch project. London: English Heritage (Archaeological Report No. 2).
Brossler, A., Early, R., and Allen, C. 2004. Green Park (Reading Business Park): phase 2 excavations 1995 – Neolithic and Bronze Age sites. Oxford: Oxford Archaeological Unit (Thames Valley Landscapes Monograph No. 17).
Brown, I. 2009. Beacons in the landscape: the hillforts of England and Wales. Oxford: Oxbow Books.
Brown, T. 2008. The Bronze Age climate and environment of Britain. Bronze Age Review 1, 7-22).
Brück, J. 1995. A place for the dead: the role of human remains in Late Bronze Age Britain. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 61, 245-277.
Brück, J. 1999a. Houses, lifecycles and deposition on Middle Bronze Age settlements in southern England. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 65, 145-66.
Brück, J. 1999b. Rituals and rationality: some problems of interpretation in European archaeology. European Journal of Archaeology 2(3), 313-44.
Brück, J. 2003. Excavations of Bronze Age field systems on Shovel Down, Dartmoor, 2003. Past 45, 10-12.
Brück, J. 2001. Body metaphors and technologies of transformation in the English Middle and Late Bronze Age. In J. Brück (ed.) Bronze Age landscapes: tradition and transformation, 149-60. Oxford: Oxbow Books.
Brück, J. 2006. Fragmentation, personhood and the social construction of technology in Middle and Late Bronze Age Britain. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 16, 297–315.
Brück, J. 2007. The character of Late Bronze Age settlement in southern Britain. In C. Haselgrove and R. Pope (eds), The Earlier Iron Age in Britain and the near Continent, 24-38. Oxford: Oxbow Books.
Buckland, P. C., Parker-Pearson, M., Wigley, A. and Girling, M. A., 2001. Is there anybody out there? A reconsideration of the environmental evidence from the Breiddin Hillfort, Powys, Wales. Antiquaries Journal, 81, pp. 51-76.
Buckley, D. and Hedges, J. 1987. The Bronze Age and Saxon settlement of Springfield Lyons, Essex: an interim report. Chelmsford: Essex County Council Archaeology Section. Occasional Paper 5.
Cunliffe, B. 1995. Iron Age Britain. London: English Heritage.
Cunliffe, B. 2004. Wessex cowboys? Oxford Journal of Archaeology 23 (1), 61-81.
Cunliffe, B. and Poole, C. 2000. The Danebury Environs programme. The prehistory of a Wessex landscape. Volume 2 The sites – Part 7 Windy Dido, Cholderton, Hants, 1995. Oxford: English Heritage and OUCA Monograph 49.
Davis, O.P., Sharples, N.M., and Waddington, K.E. (eds), 2008. Changing perspectives on the first millennium BC. Oxford: Oxbow Books.
Drewett, P.L. 1982. Later Bronze Age downland economy and excavations at Black Patch, East Sussex. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 48: 321-400.
Ellis, C.J. and Rawlings, M. 2001. Excavations at Balksbury Camp, Andover 1995-97. Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club Archaeological Society 56, 21-94.
Ellison, A. 1980. Settlements and regional exchange: a case study. In J. Barrett and R. Bradley (eds), Settlement and society in the British Late Bronze Age, 127-40. Oxford: British Archaeological Reports (British Series 83).
Ellison, A. 1981. Towards a socio-economic model for the Middle Bronze Age in southern England. In I. Hodder, G. Isaac, and N Hammond (eds), Pattern of the past, 413-38. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Elsdon, S. 1989. Later Prehistoric Pottery in England and Wales. Aylesbury: Shire. Flemming, A. 1987. Co-axial field systems: some questions of time and space. Antiquity 61, 188-203. Gingell, C. 1992. The Marlborough Downs: A later Bronze Age landscape and its origins. Devizes: Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Monograph 1. Garrow, D., Gosden, C. and Hill, J.D. 2008 (eds), Rethinking celtic art. Oxford: Oxbow Books. Harding, D.W., Blake, I. and Reynolds, P. 1993. An Iron Age settlement in Dorset: excavation and reconstruction. Edinburgh: Department of Archaeology (Monograph Series 1). Hill, J.D. 1995. How should we study Iron Age societies and hillforts? A contextual study from southern England. In J.D. Hill and C.G. Cumberpatch (eds), Different Iron Ages: studies on the Iron Age in temperate Europe, 45–66. Hill, J.D. 1995. Ritual and Rubbish in the Iron Age of Wessex. Oxford: BAR. Hingley, R. 1992. Society of Scotland from 700 BC to AD 200. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 122, 7-53. Hingley, R. 1995. The Iron Age in Atlantic Scotland: Searching for the meaning of the substantial house. In J.D. Hill and C.G. Cumberpatch (eds), Different Iron Ages: studies on the Iron Age in temperate Europe, 185-194. Oxford: British Archaeological Reports (British Series 602). Hingley, R. 1997. Iron, iron-working and regeneration. In A. Gwilt and C. Haselgrove (eds), Reconstructing Iron Age societies. Oxford, Oxbow Books. Hodder, M.A. 1990. Burnt mounds in the English West Midlands. In V. Buckley (ed.), Burnt offerings: international contributions to burnt mound archaeology, 106-11. Dublin: Wordwell. Humphrey, J. 2007. Simple tools for tough tasks or tough tools for simple tasks? Analysis and experiment in Iron Age flint utilisation. In C. Haselgrove and R. Pope (eds), The Earlier Iron Age in Britain and the near Continent, 144-59. Oxford: Oxbow Books. Lawson, A.J. 2000. Potterne 1982-5: animal husbandry in later prehistoric Wiltshire. Salisbury: Trust for Wessex Archaeology (Report No. 17). Lynch, F., Aldhouse-Green, A. & Davies, J.L. 2000. Prehistoric Wales. Stroud: Sutton. McOmish, D. 1996. East Chisenbury: ritual and rubbish at the British Bronze Age-Iron Age transition. Antiquity 70, 68-76. Needham, S.P. 1988. Selective deposition in the British Early Bronze Age. In World Archaeology 20:2, 229-248. Needham, S.P. 1990. The Petters Late Bronze Age metalwork: an analytical study of Thames Valley metalworking in its settlement context. London: British Museum Press. Needham, S.P. 1996. Chronology and periodization in the British Bronze Age. Acta Archaeologica 67, 121-140. Needham, S.P. 2001. When expediency broaches ritual intention: the flow of metal between systemic and buried domains. Royal Anthropological Institute 7, 275-98. Needham, S.P. 2007. 800 BC, the Great Divide. In C. Haselgrove and R. Pope (eds), The Earlier Iron Age in Britain and the near Continent, 39-63. Oxford: Oxbow Books. Needham, S. and Spence, T. (eds), 1996. Refuse and Disposal at Area 16 East, Runnymede. Runnymede Bridge Research Excavations, Volume 2. London: British Museum Press. Needham, S.P. and Spence, T. 1997. Refuse and the formation of middens. Antiquity 71, 77-90. O’Connor, B. 2007. Llyn Fawr metalwork in Britain: a review. In C. Haselgrove and R. Pope (eds), The Earlier Iron Age in Britain and the near Continent, 64-79. Oxford: Oxbow Books. Ó’Drisceoil, D. 1988. Burnt mounds: cooking or bathing? Antiquity 62, 671-80. Oswald, A. 1997. A doorway on the past: practical and mystic concerns in the orientation of roundhouse doorways. In A. Gwilt and C. Haselgrove (eds), Reconstructing Iron Age Societies, 87-95. Oxford: Oxbow Books. Parker Pearson, M. 1996. Food, fertility and front doors in the first millennium BC. In T.C. Champion and J.R. Collis (eds), The Iron Age in Britain and Ireland: recent trends, 117-132. Sheffield: J.R. Collis Publications. Parker Pearson, M. 1999a. Archaeology of death and burial. Stroud: Sutton.
Parker Pearson, M. 1999b. Food, sex and death: cosmologies in the British Iron Age with particular reference to east Yorkshire. Cambridge Archaeological Review 9, 43-69. Pollard, J. 2008. The construction of prehistoric Britain. In J. Pollard (ed.), Prehistoric Britain, 1-17. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing. Pryor, F. 2001. Flag Fen Basin: archaeology and environment of a Fenland landscape. London: English Heritage. Rowlands, M.J. 1971. The archaeological interpretation of prehistoric metalworking. World Archaeology 3(2), 210-24. Rowlands, M.J. 1976. The organisation of Middle Bronze Age metalworking: the production and distribution of metalwork in the Middle Bronze Age in southern England. Oxford: British Archaeological Reports (British Series 31). Rowlands, M.J. 1980. Kinship, alliance and exchange in the European Bronze Age. In J. Barrett and R. Bradley (eds), Settlement and society in the British Late Bronze Age, 15-56. Oxford: British Archaeological Reports (British Series 83).
Sharples, N.M. 2007. Building communities and creating identities in the first millennium BC. In C. Haselgrove and R. Pope (eds), The Earlier Iron Age in Britain and the near Continent, 174-84. Oxford: Oxbow Books. Timberlake, S. 2001. Mining and prospecting for metals in Early Bronze Age Britain. In J. Brück (ed.), Bronze Age landscapes: tradition and transformation, 179-82. Oxford: Oxbow Books. Tylecote, R.F. 1986. The prehistory of metallurgy in the British Isles. London: The Institute of metals. Yates, D.T. 2007. Land, power and prestige: Bronze Age field systems in southern Britain. Oxford: Oxbow Books.
Specific case-studies relating to bronze working Barber, M. 2003. Bronze and the Bronze Age. Gloucestershire: Tempus Publishing Ltd (chapter 3). Craddock, P. 1995. Early Metal Mining and Production. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Chapman, D. undated. Pentrwyn Bronze Age Metalworking Site, Great Orme) http://www.ancient-arts.org/Pentrwyn%20Bronze%20Age%20Metalworking%20Site.htm Coles, J. 1979. Experimental Archaeology. London: Academic Press. (chapter 5). Crew, P. And Crew, S. 1990. Early mining in the British Isles. Gwynedd: Plas Tan y Bwlch. Hansen, C. 2008. Experiment and experience – practice in a collaborative environment. In P. Cunningham, J. Heeb, and R. Paardekooper. 2007. Experiencing archaeology by experiment: Proceedings of the Experimental Archaeology Conference, Exeter 2007, 69-80. Oxford: Oxbow Books. O’Brien. 1994. Mount Gabriel: Bronze Age mining in Ireland. Cork: Galway University Press. O'Brien 2004, Ross Island: mining metal and society in early Ireland. Galway: Department of Archaeology (Bronze Age Studies 6). Rothenberg, B. 1990. The ancient metallurgy of copper: archaeology-experiment-theory. London: Thames and Hudson. Rowlands, M.J. 1971. The archaeological interpretation of prehistoric metalworking. World Archaeology 3(2), 210-24. Rowlands, M.J. 1976. The organisation of Middle Bronze Age metalworking: the production and distribution of metalwork in the Middle Bronze Age in southern England. Oxford: British Archaeological Reports (British Series 31). Timberlake, S. 2001. Mining and prospecting for metals in Early Bronze Age Britain. In J. Brück (ed.), Bronze Age landscapes: tradition and transformation, 179-82. Oxford: Oxbow Books. Timberlake, S. 2003, Excavations on Copa Hill, Cwymystwyth (1986-1999): an Early Bronze Age copper mine within the uplands of central Wales. Oxford: British Archaeology Reports (British Series 348). Tylecote, R.F. 1986. The prehistory of metallurgy in the British Isles. London: The Institute of metals. http://www.greatormemines.info/MPhil.htm.
Specific case studies relating to Iron working Crew, P. 2009. Iron working in Merioneth from prehistory to the 18th century. Maentwrog: Plas Tan y Bwlch. Crew, P. And Crew, S. 1990. Early mining in the British Isles. Gwynedd: Plas Tan y Bwlch. Fitzpatrick, A. 1997. Everyday life in the Iron Age of Wessex. In A. Gwilt and C. Haselgrove (eds), Reconstructing Iron Age societies, 73-86. Oxford: Oxbow Books. Hingley, R. 1997. Iron, iron-working and regeneration. In A. Gwilt and C. Haselgrove (eds), Reconstructing Iron Age societies, 9-15. Oxford, Oxbow Books.
Courses including this module
Compulsory in courses:
- V100: BA History year 2 (BA/H)
- V1V9: BA History with Archaeology with International Experience year 2 (BA/HAIE)
- V1V4: BA History with Archaeology year 2 (BA/HAR)
- V10F: BA History [with Foundation Year] year 2 (BA/HF)
- 8B03: BA History (with International Experience) year 2 (BA/HIE)
- V101: MArts History year 2 (MARTS/HIST)
Optional in courses:
- 3QV1: BA History and English Literature year 2 (BA/ELH)
- P3V1: BA Film Studies and History year 2 (BA/FSH)
- V103: BA History and Archaeology year 2 (BA/HA)
- VV41: BA Herit, Archae & Hist year 2 (BA/HAH)
- VV42: BA Heritage, Archaeology & History with International Exp year 2 (BA/HAHIE)
- MVX1: BA History/Criminology year 2 (BA/HCR)
- LV11: BA History/Economics year 2 (BA/HEC)
- RV11: BA History/French year 2 (BA/HFR)
- RV21: BA History/German year 2 (BA/HG)
- RV31: BA History/Italian year 2 (BA/HIT)
- VW13: BA History and Music year 2 (BA/HMU)
- RV41: BA History/Spanish year 2 (BA/HSP)
- V130: BA Mediaeval and Early Modern His year 2 (BA/MEMH)
- VVV1: BA Philosophy and Religion and History year 2 (BA/PRH)
- VVV2: BA Philosophy and Religion and Welsh History year 2 (BA/PRWH)
- LV31: BA Sociology/History year 2 (BA/SH)
- LV41: BA Social Policy/History year 2 (BA/SPH)
- QV51: BA Cymraeg/History year 2 (BA/WH)
- V104: BA Welsh History and Archaeology year 2 (BA/WHAR)
- VP23: BA Welsh History and Film Studies year 2 (BA/WHFS)
- VV12: BA Welsh History/History year 2 (BA/WHH)
- VW2H: BA Welsh History and Music year 2 (BA/WHMU)
- LVH2: BA Welsh History/Sociology year 2 (BA/WHS)