British megalith architecture

British megalith architecture is the study of those ancient cultures that built megalithic sites on the British Isles, including the research and documentation of these sites. The classification sometimes used of these cultures based on geological criteria is problematic.

The neolithic sites of Britain are amongst the most varied in the prehistory of Europe. Although (geologically) different from "megalithic" sites, the earthen long barrows in East England are grouped with them from a cultural historical perspective. The Medway tombs and the Derbyshire chamber tombs (Five Wells) occupy a special position as examples of megalithic sites in East England. The north-south boundary between earthen sites and stone sites in England and Scotland is crossed at three points to the east by the seven different types of megalith site types (in the so-called mixed regions).

The activities of megalithic cultures in the region dates back to prehistoric times. There are many parallels between the prehistoric architecture of Ireland and the now British regions of Cornwall (including the Isles of Scilly), the Isle of Man, Wales and Scotland; but there are somewhat greater differences between those and the sites in England and, particularly, the Channel Islands. Although almost all regions have endemic megalith types, but they also usually have unique examples (e.g. the chamber tomb of Glyn) as well as forms that they share with one or two neighbouring regions.

Exemplary in this respect are the "cruciform passage" sites of the Maes Howe type on Orkney (in Ireland e.g. Knowth and Newgrange), whose distribution extends as far as the Scilly Isles and Devonshire in England. In addition to the great wealth of variety in Scotland, favoured by its geography, there are also sites on the Scottish islands with individual characteristics.

Neolithic monuments are an expression of the culture and ideology of Neolithic societies. Their origin and function are considered characteristic of social development.[1]

Megawal12
The palette of megalithic architecture on the British Isles

Dating

Well dated monuments, such as Street House in North Yorkshire and Hazleton North in Gloucestershire, indicate that the primary period of use, during which there were continual burials, perhaps lasted only two or three centuries. The small number of burials found in the West Kennet Long Barrow in Wiltshire seems to confirm this.

On the other hand, the Middle Neolithic pottery in the trenches of long barrows and the late dates of the hearths (Herde) on the forecourts of megalithic sites such as Monamore on the Isle of Arran, indicate that the interest of the communities in these monuments was maintained for centuries after the last burial. The construction of cenotaphs like Tulach an t'Sionnaich in Caithness leads to the same conclusion.

Primarily in southern England, burial sites were deliberately closed. The time when this occurred is often uncertain. The chamber of the West Kennet Long Barrow seems to have been used for many centuries, but was eventually filled about 2400 B.C. Blocked access is often found in atria, indicating an end to the chamber's use, but the frequent presence of more than one layer indicates that these decisions were not final, making it difficult to determine the exact time when the tomb was finally abandoned. Particularly in Scotland (up to the Shetlands - Pettigarth's Field), there are a number of multi-period systems (English multi-period building), whereby round mounds had long barrows subsequently built over them (Grey Cairns of Camster) and heel-shaped cairns).

It is not clear whether any new monuments erected after about 3000 B.C. in southern England, although rituals continued to be held in the old ones. In the northwest, the old tradition probably lasted longer. The conversion of a classic passage tomb into a henge monument, as in Bryn Celli Ddu on Anglesey, shows that the religious focus was maintained in traditional construction, even if new sites were already being built. Such evidence, however, is not to be found everywhere. The advent of the Late Neolithic individual graves is connected with the appearance of the Bell-Beaker culture and signs of a new attitude in society. In many areas the old ideas end abruptly.

See also

Also included are

References

  1. ^ J. Müller In: Varia neolithica VI 2009 p. 15

Literature

  • R. Cavendish Prehistoric England 1983
  • B. Cunliffe & A. + G. Ritchie: Oxford Archaeological Guide, Scotland 1998 ISBN 0-19-288002-0
  • F. Lynch: Megalithic Tombs and Long Barrows in Britain 1997 ISBN 0-7478-0341-2
  • E. Shee Twohig: Irish Megalithic Tombs 1990 ISBN 0-7478-0094-4
  • Jürgen E. Walkowitz: Das Megalithsyndrom. europäische Kultstätten der Steinzeit. Beier & Beran, Langenweißbach 2003, ISBN 3-930036-70-3.
Bare Island projectile point

The Bare Island projectile point is a stone projectile point of prehistoric indigenous peoples of North America. It was named by Fred Kinsey in 1959 for examples recovered at the Kent-Halley site on Bare Island in Pennsylvania.

Celt (tool)

In archaeology, a celt is a long, thin, prehistoric, stone or bronze tool similar to an adze, a hoe or axe-like tool.

Cist

A cist ( or ; also kist ;

from Greek: κίστη or Germanic Kiste) is a small stone-built coffin-like box or ossuary used to hold the bodies of the dead. Examples can be found across Europe and in the Middle East.

A cist may have been associated with other monuments, perhaps under a cairn or long barrow. Several cists are sometimes found close together within the same cairn or barrow. Often ornaments have been found within an excavated cist, indicating the wealth or prominence of the interred individual.

This old word is preserved in the Swedish language, where "kista" is the word for a funerary coffin.

Court cairn

The court cairn or tomb is a megalithic type of chamber tomb and gallery grave, specifically a variant of the chambered cairn, found in western and northern Ireland, and in mostly southwest Scotland (where it may also be called a horned cairn or Clyde-Carlingford tomb), around 4000–3500 BCE, but many remained in use until as late as the Bronze Age transition, c. 2200 BCE. They are generally considered to be the earliest chambered cairn tombs in Scotland, and their construction technique was probably brought from Scotland to Ireland.

In Scotland, they are most common in what today are Argyll and Dumfries and Galloway (where they form the Clyde-Carlingford group), though a small outlying group have been found near Perth.

Cumberland point

A Cumberland point is a lithic projectile point, attached to a spear and used as a hunting tool. These sturdy points were intended for use as thrusting weapons and employed by various mid-Paleo-Indians (c. 11,000 BP) in the Southeastern US in the killing of large game mammals.

Eden point

Eden Points are a form of chipped stone projectile points associated with a sub-group of the larger Plano culture. Sometimes also called Yuma points, the first Eden points were discovered in washouts in Yuma County, Colorado. They were first discovered in situ at an ancient buffalo kill site near Eden, Wyoming by Harold J. Cook in 1941. The site, named after discoverer O. M. Finley, eventually yielded 24 projectile points, including eight Eden points, eight Scottsbluff points and one complete Cody point, both other sub-groups within the Plano group. Eden points are believed to have been used between 10,000 and 6,000 years ago by paleo-indian hunters in the western plains.

Eden points are the most common paleo-indian projectile points found today. They have been discovered across the western plain states, including Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, and Montana.

Folsom point

Folsom points are a distinct form of knapped stone projectile points associated with the Folsom tradition of North America. The style of tool-making was named after the Folsom Site located in Folsom, New Mexico, where the first sample was found by George McJunkin within the bone structure of a bison in 1908. The Folsom point was identified as a unique style of projectile point in 1926.

Grattoir de côté

A Grattoir de côté (translates from French as Side Scraper) is an archaeological term for a ridged variety of steep-scrapers distinguished by a working edge on one side. They were found at various archaeological sites in Lebanon including Ain Cheikh and Jdeideh II and are suggested to date to Upper Paleolithic stages three or four (Antelian).

Grinding slab

In archaeology, a grinding slab is a ground stone artifact generally used to grind plant materials into usable size, though some slabs were used to shape other ground stone artifacts. Some grinding stones are portable; others are not and, in fact, may be part of a stone outcropping.

Grinding slabs used for plant processing typically acted as a coarse surface against which plant materials were ground using a portable hand stone, or mano ("hand" in Spanish). Variant grinding slabs are referred to as metates or querns, and have a ground-out bowl. Like all ground stone artifacts, grinding slabs are made of large-grained materials such as granite, basalt, or similar tool stones.

Lamoka projectile point

Lamoka projectile points are stone projectile points manufactured by Native Americans what is now the northeastern United States, generally in the time interval of 3500-2500 B.C. They predate the invention of the bow and arrow, and are therefore not true "arrowheads", but rather atlatl dart points. They derive their name from the specimens found at the Lamoka site in Schuyler County, New York.

Pesse canoe

The Pesse canoe is believed to be the world's oldest known boat, and certainly the oldest known canoe. Carbon dating indicates that the boat was constructed during the early mesolithic period between 8040 BCE and 7510 BCE. It is now in the Drents Museum in Assen, Netherlands.

Plano point

In archeology, Plano point is flaked stone projectile points and tools created by the various Plano cultures of the North American Great Plains between 9000 BC and 6000 BC for hunting, and possibly to kill other humans.

They are bifacially worked and have been divided into numerous sub-groups based on variations in size, shape and function including Alberta points, Cody points, Frederick points, Eden points and Scottsbluff points. Plano points do not include the hollowing or 'fluting' found in Clovis and Folsom points.

Racloir

In archeology, a racloir, also known as racloirs sur talon (French for scraper on the platform), is a certain type of flint tool made by prehistoric peoples.

It is a type of side scraper distinctive of Mousterian assemblages. It is created from a flint flake and looks like a large scraper. As well as being used for scraping hides and bark, it may also have been used as a knife. Racloirs are most associated with the Neanderthal Mousterian industry. These racloirs are retouched along the ridge between the striking platform and the dorsal face. They have shaped edges and are modified by abrupt flaking from the dorsal face.

Rock shelter

A rock shelter — also rockhouse, crepuscular cave, bluff shelter, or abri — is a shallow cave-like opening at the base of a bluff or cliff. In contrast to solutional cave (karst) caves, which are often many miles long, rock shelters are almost always modest in size and extent.

Stone row

A stone row (or stone alignment), is a linear arrangement of upright, parallel megalithic standing stones set at intervals along a common axis or series of axes, usually dating from the later Neolithic or Bronze Age. Rows may be individual or grouped, and three or more stones aligned can constitute a stone row.

Tool stone

In archaeology, a tool stone is a type of stone that is used to manufacture stone tools,

or stones used as the raw material for tools.Generally speaking, tools that require a sharp edge are made using cryptocrystalline materials that fracture in an easily controlled conchoidal manner.

Cryptocrystalline tool stones include flint and chert, which are fine-grained sedimentary materials; rhyolite and felsite, which are igneous flowstones; and obsidian, a form of natural glass created by igneous processes. These materials fracture in a predictable fashion, and are easily resharpened. For more information on this subject, see lithic reduction.

Large-grained materials, such as basalt, granite, and sandstone, may also be used as tool stones, but for a very different purpose: they are ideal for ground stone artifacts. Whereas cryptocrystalline materials are most useful for killing and processing animals, large-grained materials are usually used for processing plant matter. Their rough faces often make excellent surfaces for grinding plant seeds. With much effort, some large-grained stones may be ground down into awls, adzes, and axes.

Tor cairn

A tor cairn is a prehistoric cult site occurring in the British Isles, especially in Cornwall and Devon but also in Wales. It consists of a circular enclosure of stones or a platform of loose rocks surrounding a natural tor, sometimes encircled by a ditch. The diameter of the roughly 35 tor cairns ranges from 12 to over 30 metres and their height varies from 0.5 to 4.0 metres. There is usually an entrance to the enclosed area and pits in the ground between the rock outcrop (tor) itself and the enclosure.Finds of flint tools, pottery, gravel, quartz and bronze weapons and jewellery have enabled the sites to be dated to the early 2nd millennium B.C., i.e. the early Bronze Age.Examples are the tor cairns of: Alex Tor, Catshole Tor, Corndon Tor, Cox Tor, Hameldown Tor, Limsboro Cairn, White Tor (Peter Tavy), Rough Tor, Tolborough Tor, Top Tor, Tregarrick Tor and Yes Tor.

Uniface

In archeology, a uniface is a specific type of stone tool that has been flaked on one surface only. There are two general classes of uniface tools: modified flakes—and formalized tools, which display deliberate, systematic modification of the marginal edges, evidently formed for a specific purpose.

Yubetsu technique

The Yubetsu technique (湧別技法, Yūbetsu gihō) is a special technique to make microblades, proposed by Japanese scholar Yoshizaki in 1961, based on his finds in some Upper Palaeolithic sites in Hokkaido, Japan, which date from c. 13,000 bp.

The name comes from the Yūbetsu River (湧別川, Yubetsugawa), on the right bank of which the Shirataki (白滝遺跡, Shirataki Iseki) Palaeolithic sites were discovered.

To make microblades by this technique, a large biface is made into a core which looks like a tall carinated scraper. Then one lateral edge of the bifacial core is removed, producing at first a triangular spall. After, more edge removals will produce ski spalls of parallel surfaces.

This technique was also used from Mongolia to Kamchatka Peninsula during the later Pleistocene.

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