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Talking About My Generation: the Date of the West Kennet Long Barrow

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Thirty-one radiocarbon results are now available from the West Kennet long barrow, and are presented within an interpretive Bayesian statistical framework. Two alternative archaeological interpretations of the sequence are given, each with a separate Bayesian model. In our preferred interpretation, the barrow is seen as a unitary construction (given the lack of dating samples from the old ground surface, ditches or constructional features themselves), with a series of deposits of human remains made in the chambers following construction. Primary deposition in the chambers is followed by further secondary deposition of some human remains, including children, and layers of earth and chalk, the latest identifiable finds in which are Beaker sherds. In the Bayesian model for this sequence, the construction of the monument at West Kennet, as dated from the primary mortuary deposits, occurred in 36703610 cal. BC. The difference between these two distributions suggests that this primary mortuary activity probably continued for only 103240 cal. BC and continued into the second half of the third millennium cal. BC. In an alternative interpretation, we do not assume that all the people dated from the primary mortuary deposits were placed in the monument in a fleshed or partially articulated condition; they could therefore have died before the monument was built, although they must have died before the end of the formation of the mortuary deposit. In the Bayesian model for this interpretation, the monument appears to belong either to the thirty-seventh century cal. BC or the mid-thirty-sixth century cal. BC, and deposition again appears short-lived, but the model is unstable. Results are discussed in relation to the setting and sequence of the local region.
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Date of the West Kennet Long Barrow
Talking About My Generation:
the Date of the West Kennet Long Barrow
and contains transepted orthostatic chambers at its
eastern end. These consist of an end chamber, two
pairs of opposed chambers, and a passage, principally
formed by sarsen orthostats (Fig. 1). The passage led
in from what was originally a concave orthostatic
 


investigated, revealing a core of small sarsen stones
    


Thirty-one radiocarbon results are now available from the West Kennet long barrow, and are
presented within an interpretive Bayesian statistical framework. Two alternative archaeo-
logical interpretations of the sequence are given, each with a separate Bayesian model. In
our preferred interpretation, the barrow is seen as a unitary construction (given the lack of
dating samples from the old ground surface, ditches or constructional features themselves),
with a series of deposits of human remains made in the chambers following construction.
Primary deposition in the chambers is followed by further secondary deposition of some


of the monument at West Kennet, as dated from the primary mortuary deposits, occurred
in , probably in the middle decades of the thirty-seventh century cal. .
The last interments of this initial use of the chambers probably occurred in 
cal. -
ary activity probably continued for only 
 and
continued into the second half of the third millennium cal. . In an alternative interpreta-
tion, we do not assume that all the people dated from the primary mortuary deposits were
 they could therefore
have died before the monument was built, although they must have died before the end of
the formation of the mortuary deposit. In the Bayesian model for this interpretation, the
monument appears to belong either to the thirty-seventh century cal.  or the mid-thirty-
sixth century cal. , and deposition again appears short-lived, but the model is unstable.

The West Kennet long barrow is one of the best

recognized from at least the time of John Aubrey in

by John Thurnam in the nineteenth century and more


above the upper Kennet valley in the region around
      


Cambridge Archaeological Journal  


et al.
this sarsen core could suggest that this feature was
part of an earlier, perhaps free-standing version
        
ditches about a third of the way from the western end,

suggested that the mound may be of more than one




-

from a small part of the buried soil,
well west of the façade, was carried
   

Primary deposits
The monument is thus notable as an
imposing chambered long barrow,
generally thought of as part of the
wider Cotswold transepted type, but

of its chambers. Thurnam’s investi-
gation came down through the end
chamber, revealing inhumations, and
went some way along the passage,
encountering substantial secondary
    -
 
the side chambers, covering further
primary inhumations. These pri-
mary mortuary deposits consisted of


articulation and completeness, as

was originally estimated that at least
   represented in
    
       
later suggested that these remains
could be seen as arranged by some
sort of categorization on the basis of
-
ber, predominantly adults (men and
women) in the inner side chambers,
      
-

    
original estimate of numbers was too

       

       

 


       


Figure 1. The West Kennet long barrow.

Date of the West Kennet Long Barrow

selective abstraction.
Both the style of the monument and artefacts
associated with the primary interments suggested a

-
carbon dates then recently obtained from Windmill


Secondary deposits
Following the active mortuary use of the tomb and
the partial collapse of sections of internal dry stone
walling, the contents were sealed beneath deliber-
 

to the roof. 

of the passage untouched by Thurnam, contained
  





accumulated over a very long period of time elsewhere,
 
monument, in a single act, at a time given by the lat-

argued that West Kennet could have been in use as a
mortuary facility for several hundred years before being

remained open for use over a span of centuries became

-
       
much more gradual process of deposition over a long

of radiocarbon dates from Hazleton.
-
ably more adult and immature human material depos-
 


in loose groups or sub-assemblages and have been

Objectives of this study
Further dating of the West Kennet long barrow was

advances in radiocarbon dating and the interpretation
of radiocarbon dates which have been made in the last
Figure 2. Revised demographic distribution for the primary deposits.
W Chamber
 
(1 Child)
SW Chamber NW Chamber
 
5 Adult   
  
  
 and cranial fragment only)
SE Chamber NE Chamber
1 Adult  1 Adult 
1 Adult  1 Adult 
 1 Adult ? 
88
et al.
decade or so (Bayliss et al. this issue). These develop-
ments provide the potential to produce much more

   et al   
understanding of the chronology of the Neolithic
monuments within the Avebury area has also recently
        

contribute to public understanding and appreciation

     

• to date the primary construction of the monument

• to determine the dates of the mortuary deposits

• to determine whether there was spatial variation
in the deposition of human remains within a burial

• to determine whether the mortuary deposits in the

• to determine whether the articulated burials in the


•  


• to establish the relative position of West Kennet
-

         


and mortuary processes enabled the strategic selection


  
-


including of its failure to distinguish
in some cases between material from

details will be provided elsewhere
 This re-
cent study also suggests that there are
no direct taphonomic traces evident

elsewhere for any of the material
    
a number of individuals were clearly
deposited in an articulated state as
can be seen from the original plans
   
seen in partially articulated individuals do not con-
   -


corpses.
Sampling
   -
ment was constructed to assess the number of samples

a resolution which would be archaeologically useful

  
et al 

error terms for the radiocarbon measurements based
on the available samples.
Certain types of sample were targeted for dat-

 

• articulated bone groups which could not have

the death of the individual concerned without be-
 

• bone groups where articulated deposition could be


• disarticulated human remains from individuals
-
logical duplications.
All specimens were selected to ensure that each dated
sample was from a separate individual. This allows
measurements on the same body to be combined
before calibration, so that all dates included in the
Figure 3. Radiocarbon dates for the long barrow obtained in 1984, calibrated
using the maximum intercept method (Stuiver & Reimer 1986) and data
from Pearson et al.


Date of the West Kennet Long Barrow
models are statistically independent
     -
tion, sampling locations on individual
bones were chosen to avoid any areas
showing previous use of consolidant
or adhesives.
The first series of samples
-
 
    
and disuse of the monument. Once
these results were received, and a
preliminary model constructed, fur-
ther samples were selected to resolve
      
results and address more detailed
     
disarticulated human bone from the
primary mortuary deposits were
selected to see whether they were of
    


second series of measurements had
been completed, a technical problem
-
-
   et al 
Bayliss et al. this issue). The resolution
of this problem necessitated a third
series of replicate samples.
Results
Thirty-one radiocarbon results are
now available from West Kennet
      -
    

individuals come from the primary
-
man samples and the goat come from
the secondary deposits.
The results are conventional
    
-
vided in Table 1 have been calculated

       

  

et al
       


et alet al
samples were processed and measured according to
Figure 4. Probability distributions of simulated dates from West Kennet.
Each distribution represents the relative probability that an event occurs at
a particular time. For each radiocarbon date, two distributions have been


with, for example, YY, is the growth of the person whose bones were dated.
The other distributions correspond to aspects of the model. For example,
the distribution ‘build’



et al.
Table 1.
et al. this issue).
Laboratory
no.
Sample no. and material Radiocarbon
age (bp)
δ13C (‰) δ15N
(‰)
C:N
ratio
Weighted
mean (bp)
Calibrated date
range (95%
condence)
Posterior density
estimate (probability)
 c.



strongly suggest that it was articulated
when deposited.
   
T'
T'
= 1
 3650–3620 cal.  (79%) or
3565–3530 cal.  (16%)
    
 c.

deposit


to strongly suggest that it was
articulated when deposited.
   
T' 
T'
= 1
 3655–3620 cal.  (80%) or
3560–3535 cal.  (15%)
   8.8 
 c.

deposit


to strongly suggest that it was
articulated when deposited.
     3655–3620 cal.  (79%) or
3565–3530 cal.  (16%)
 

deposit


the individual was at least partially
articulated on deposition.
     3655–3625 cal.  (81%) or
3560–3535 cal.  (14%)
 

deposit


the individual was at least partially
articulated on deposition.
     3660–3625 cal.  (81%) or
3555–3535 cal.  (14%)
 

     3650–3610 cal.  (79%) or
3570–3530 cal.  (16%)
 

NW chamber primary deposit
  11.8  
T'
T'
= 1
 3655–3625 cal.  (81%) or
3555–3535 cal.  (14%)
  
 
1
 
(assumed)
 3655–3615 cal.  (79%) or
3570–3530 cal.  (16%)
 

NW chamber primary deposit
 
(assumed)
 3660–3615 cal.  (79%) or
3565–3530 cal.  (16%)
 
humerus from NW chamber primary
deposit
     3655–3625 cal.  (79%) or
3560–3535 cal.  (16%)
 
humerus from NW chamber primary
deposit
     3650–3615 cal.  (79%) or
3570–3530 cal.  (16%)
 

c.
deposit
 
(assumed)
 3655–3615 cal.  (79%) or
3570–3530 cal.  (16%)
 
c.


elements survive to suggest that
the individual was at least partially
articulated on deposition.
     3655–3620 cal.  (80%) or
3560–3535 cal.  (15%)

Date of the West Kennet Long Barrow
Laboratory
no.
Sample no. and material Radiocarbon
age (bp)
δ13C (‰) δ15N
(‰)
C:N
ratio
Weighted
mean (bp)
Calibrated date
range (95%
condence)
Posterior density
estimate (probability)
 

deposit
     3650–3620 cal.  (79%) or
3565–3530 cal.  (16%)
 

deposit
     3655–3615 cal.  (79%) or
3565–3530 cal.  (16%)
 

deposit
  11.8   3645–3605 cal.  (80%) or
3570–3525 cal.  (15%)
 


   
T'
T'
 3655–3630 cal.  (81%) or
3560–3540 cal.  (14%)
    
 

primary deposit
 
(assumed)

T'
T'(5%) =
 = 1
 3650–3620 cal.  (79%) or
3560–3530 cal.  (16%)
 

   
 WK 11, right femur from partially


     3655–3625 cal.  (80%) or
3560–3535 cal.  (15%)
 


of post-cranial remains, suggesting
articulation or partial articulation at
the time of deposition
     3345–3205 cal.  (88%) or
3195–3150 cal.  (7%)
 


that it was articulated on deposition
  11.5   3300–3085 cal.  (91%) or
3060–3030 cal.  (4%)
 c.


suggesting articulation on deposition
     3305–3320 cal.  (95%)
 WK 8, humerus from an infant,


suggesting that it was articulated on
deposition
     2875–2800 cal.  (41%) or
2780–2595 cal.  (54%)
 WK 5, rib fragment of infant,
c.
secondary deposits. From largely




suggests articulation on deposition.
     2840–2805 cal.  (4%) or
2760–2565 cal.  (87%) or
2525–2495 cal.  (4%)
 
infant, c.
secondary deposits

indicating articulation at the time of
deposition.
     3495–3455 cal.  (4%) or
3380–3260 cal.  (34%) or
3250–3095 cal.  (57%)
 Capra sp., male) from

chamber secondary deposits
     2570–2515 cal.  (20%) or
2500–2335 cal.  (75%)
Table 1. (cont.)
et al
et al

processed using the gelatinization protocol described
et al-
ery in the laboratory of a contamination problem
associated with this method, in eighteen cases the
contaminated material was re-processed, graphitized
et al

-


et al.
et al
  et al.
-
sey et al

      

et alet al. 
Interpretations
Two alternative chronological models for the West
    

Primary deposits
A schematic representation of the composition of the
primary deposits of human bone in each chamber is

      
deposits in the southeast chamber. Two were dated
       
case producing statistically consistent radiocarbon
-
      
abundant ribs, vertebrae, hand and foot bones assign-
  
that they were probably in an articulated or partially

is represented by a disarticulated adult femur, and so
we have no evidence whether this body was originally
deposited articulated. From the published site pho-
tographs, it seems that this material, much of which
appears to have been originally deposited in at least


no certain stratigraphic relationships between the
dated individuals in this chamber although some of
the adult bones were recorded overlying some of the

Five individuals have been dated from the
primary deposits in the northwest chamber. Two
statistically inconsistent radiocarbon results (Table 1)
have been obtained on the scapula from the partially

-
-
tistical outlier. Therefore the measurements have been
combined before calibration. Four other disarticulated
bones were dated. Two right humeri, which on mor-



  

      -
  


however, might be from one of the individuals whose
right humerus has been dated.
Five individuals have also been dated from the
-
mur was dated from a partially articulated sub-adult



that it was at least partially articulated on deposition,
although the remains were recovered disarticulated.
      
adults. These bones were recovered disarticulated,
    


in articulation.
Five radiocarbon results are available from three

chamber. Two were dated in replicate, in each case
producing statistically consistent radiocarbon meas-
Figure 5. Summary of prior information incorporated in
the chronological model shown in Figures 6 and 7. The
stratigraphic relationships between samples are shown

the right-hand side represent uniformly distributed
phases of activity.

Date of the West Kennet Long Barrow


    
    

incorporated in the chronological model, because





No samples were dated from the west chamber.
-
tions of this chamber does survive, having been re-


this history and its scarcity, it was decided not to use
it in this programme. Four male crania (recently re-
  

      

radiocarbon dating.
Secondary deposits
Numerous sub-assemblages containing immature hu-


-
cretions were found in the archive labelled as com-
   
where labelling was absent or uninformative, such
sub-assemblages still contained fragmentary animal,
 ceramic and carbonized material, again


  -
 
   
or poorly labelled sub-assemblages to either primary
  



material from both primary and secondary deposits
-

came from the primary deposits).

       
    


-
   
  




is ‘from above the dry stone walling of the northwest
corner of the southeast chamber’. The precise locations

this relationship is not included in the chronological
  
samples in this chamber, coming ‘from the surface
 

     



A largely complete, and partially articulated,


       

Results from chronological modelling

the construction of the transepted monument at West
Kennet, as dated from the primary mortuary depos-
its, occurred in 3670–3635 cal.  (81% probability) or
3575–3545 cal.  (14% probabilitystart primary). The
last interments of this initial use of the burial cham-
bers occurred in 3640–3610 cal.  (77% probability) or
3550–3520 cal.  (18% probability end primary). The

that this primary mortuary activity continued for
Table 2. Posterior density estimates for the dates of archaeological
events and the duration of activities at West Kennet, derived from the
model described in Figures 5–7.
Model 1 (Figs. 5–7)
Distribution Posterior density
estimate (68%
probability)
Posterior density estimate
(95% probability)
start primary 3655–3635 cal.  3670–3635 cal.  (81%) or
3575–3545 cal.  (14%)
end primary 3635–3615 cal.  3640–3610 cal.  (77%) or
3550–3520 cal.  (18%)
 3510–3295 cal.  3620–3240 cal. 
 2475–2225 cal.  2545–2065 cal. 
primary_use 10–30 years 1–55 years (94%) or
115–140 years (1%)
abandonment 95–320 years 1–375 years
 895–1235 years 775–1420 years

et al.
only 10–30 years (68% probability),
1–55 years (94% probability) or 115–140
years (1% probability primary use) (see

The short duration of the pri-
mary mortuary activity at West
    
radiocarbon dating, it is not possible
to distinguish any chronological
variation in the spatial distribution of
corpses within chambers, or between
chambers, when the actual duration
of the activity was so short.
The radiocarbon determinations

primary mortuary deposit are statis-
tically consistent (T'T'(5%) =

This means that all these individuals
could have died at the same time,
although they do not have to be pre-
-
ever, that they are all close in date.
The chronological model shown

agreement (Aoverall    
radiocarbon dates are consistent with
the interpretation, included in the
model, that none of the disarticulated
material was residual or ancestral.
-
ments from these deposits form such
a coherent group, if the disarticulated
samples were ancestral by even one
or two generations, the model would
probably show poor agreement (see
below for further discussion of this
point). The model shown also has
   
    et al. this is-
sue).
Once the primary mortuary

to have been a hiatus before the
secondary accumulation of deposits
within the chambers began. This
hiatus probably lasted for rather more
Figure 6. Probability distributions of dates from West Kennet, with
all burials in the primary mortuary deposits interpreted as freshly dead
individuals. The format is identical to that in Figure 4. The large square

model exactly.
Figure 7. Probability distributions
of the number of years during which
various activities occurred in the West
Kennet long barrow, derived from the
model shown in Figure 5.

Date of the West Kennet Long Barrow
abandonment). According to

chambers began in 3620–3240 cal.  (95% probability
), and continued into the second half of the
third millennium cal.     ). Overall

   ). We discuss the archaeological

An alternative model for the chronology of the

have not assumed that all the people dated from the
primary mortuary deposits were placed in the monu-
 
They could therefore have died before the monument
was built, although they must have died before the end
of the formation of the mortuary deposit (Fig. 8). This
interpretation is included in the second model (Figs.
        
(Aoverall   

is unstable and does not produce consistent results.
This can be illustrated by more detailed consid-
eration of the posterior density estimate for the start
of deposition of the primary burials in the chambers
(start primary      
because of the strong ‘wiggle’ in the calibration curve
       et al 
Bayliss et al


the possibility that the actual date of the distribution

where the sampler has become trapped in the earlier
part of the thirty-seventh century cal. , even though
start primary really dates to the

-
terior density estimates derived from this alternative
      
start primary

  
model. Consistently, however, this interpretation of
the primary deposits at West Kennet favours the later
    
preferred.
We believe on archaeological and osteological
grounds (discussed above with reference to the prob-
able absence of secondary rites) that, of these two
 
and disarticulation are the only reasons for supposing
that there could have been secondary burial at West
Kennet, but it is clear that disarticulation is the result
at least in part of movement of material around the
chambers, as seen in the rearrangement of material
in the northwest chamber (e.g. caches of 
           
    

  


Discussion
The dating programme at West Kennet was slightly
more limited than those for Hazleton long cairn and
    
      
series, for which samples constraining the construc-
tions were available. An archaeologically more reliable

  
underlying the barrow, the primary sarsen core and
Figure 8. Summary of prior information incorporated
in the chronological model shown in Figures 9 and 10.
The stratigraphic relationships between samples are

down the right-hand side represent uniformly distributed
phases of activity.

et al.


      
  
-
tended at some point in the future.
   -
fore be stressed that the dates ob-
tained here are termini ante quos for
the construction of the monument,
in the form that encompassed the
chambers, and that we are assuming
that bodies were deposited in the
chambers as soon as or very soon

cannot discount the possibility that
the monument began with a smaller

as already noted above, nor entirely
disprove the possibility that other
bodies or human remains had earlier
been deposited in the chambers but
    
However, it is demonstrated above
that there is no support for the dis-
articulated remains here being any
older than the articulated, or partially
articulated, remains.
On the basis of the main model
presented above, we can now date
the construction of the monument
to the middle decades of the thirty-
seventh century cal.  (3670–3635
cal.  at 81% probability). There is,
however, some possibility that the
monument was actually built in the
    
century cal.  (3575–3745 cal.  at
14% probability). We believe that the
alternative model, which perhaps
favours this later construction date, is
less plausible on archaeological and
osteological grounds. Compared with

the literature, the results suggest a
surprisingly short span of primary
use (10–30 years at 68% probability or
Figure 9. Probability distributions of dates from West Kennet, following
an alternative model, with disarticulated single bones from the primary
mortuary deposits interpreted as potential older, secondary depositions. The
format is identical to that in Figure 4, with the convergence for each posterior
density estimate given in square brackets. The large square brackets down the

Figure 10. Probability distributions
of the number of years during which
various activities occurred in the West
Kennet long barrow, derived from the
model shown in Figure 8.

Date of the West Kennet Long Barrow
      ). That our
-
sets of particular people in particular places and times
is reinforced by the succeeding gap of rather more
than a century (abandonment

the inactivity — at least in this domain — of their suc-
cessors. This model contrasts now rather strongly with

monument lasted some centuries, and was followed

secondary deposition. One further clue to the real-
ity of an abandonment may be found in the signs of
decay, represented by the partial collapse of portions
  

secondary deposits. By this stage, this was a monu-
ment whose fabric and contents were no longer at the
forefront of people’s minds, or no longer accessible.
  -



can note also that, in terms of the total duration of
      
was surprisingly good in an era when radiocarbon
dating had scarcely been established, since he ended
his report by stating that ‘it seems unavoidable that
the use of the West Kennet tomb, from building to
  



   
  
a long history is incorrect. The dates now available
indicate gradual deposition, over a period of centu-
ries (   
elsewhere (even if only in the forecourt) over a long

   

-

-

pointing out again that an archaeologically more
  
  
        
further investigation. Future research here, however,
  
organic residues and of calcined bone. The claim for

the secondary deposits recalls the suggestion by Hum-
        

This is further supported by the observation that

chamber had collapsed on to the primary deposits
and were overlain by the earliest layers of secondary

also give us cause to consider the nature of the hiatus
   


the southwest chamber suggests the passage of some

         

-
ment in the sense of an unplanned retreat in the face of
contrary circumstances, there may have been a more
formal or deliberate closure, perhaps also involving

  
 
     

-
 






-

during their development. The latest date achieved in
the current programme at West Kennet long barrow is
, although this sample may
well not represent the latest activity in the process of
   


2570–2515 cal.  (20% probability) or 2500–
2335 cal. 
   -


cal. . The date from the goat is not inconsistent
with the currency of 




et al.
   

remains the source of the main material constituting
-
aged as coming from any number of constructions, but
there are few if any signs of activity at monuments in



this material could have been drawn.
 

      
to reconsider the chronology of the early part of the
         
      
       
, c. 

, c. 
cal.    
, c.)
came more evidence for clearance and occupation in

and more elaborate barrows, and the appearance of
      
 

    
for the Avebury area now seem too

based on too few dates from too few
sites. Other reviews of the evidence
      
broad and imprecise timescales (e.g.
     
trend may have been detected, it
now seems more useful to set named
phases aside and to concentrate on
developments in terms of their abso-
-
   
    
that can be placed before c.
. West Kennet long barrow can now
strongly be suggested as belonging
to the thirty-seventh century cal. .
Other potentially earlier long barrows

 et al 
by far fewer determinations, and so
far, their results have not been treated
within a Bayesian statistical frame-
-
bon dates, could be seen as later than West Kennet, in
the ‘mid to later fourth millennium 


was suggested as belonging to the ‘middle of the
fourth millennium 
and a visual (non-Bayesian) inspection of the results
-
ible with a period of use for the enclosure from before
 . Further results can
  
dating and Bayesian analysis covering causewayed

-



in detail to West Kennet long barrow. The results from
West Kennet in a real sense change everything for this
region, and we will need to construct other detailed

want to grasp more nuanced histories.
-
miliar, and much discussed, including an interest in
the human dead and their arrangement, categorization
Figure 11.

single sample. This is only a small section of the total sampling run but
allows one to see whether the model is concentrating on particular parts of
the distribution.

Date of the West Kennet Long Barrow
     

    
West Kennet long barrow presented here add, using
 
      
activity over a short period of time, and an interest
not in timeless, generalized or anonymous forebears

    
for local agency and local identity, within the structure
of wider changes elsewhere, a relationship which we
       et al. this
issue). Our sense of this narrative is becoming more

and it is hard not to believe that it was similar for the
Neolithic people involved.
Acknowledgements
The radiocarbon dating programme reported here was


       
     
samples. The re-analysis of the human bone assemblage was




       


Notes
 
         
missing and there is no evidence of sampling on any
    

 
have poor convergence, with some of the distributions
from the primary mortuary deposits falling slightly

for these dates at West Kennet are strongly bi-modally

sampler is unable to determine whether the actual
age of these samples falls in the mid-thirty-seventh
.
    
    , is also slightly
more probable in a model which does not allow for
the possibility of secondary deposition but in which
   

convergence and so is unstable, although an earlier
date in the mid-thirty-seventh century cal.  is always

century cal. .
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Archaeological Research Agenda for the World
Heritage Site

   
Nuclear Instru-
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     
 collec-
tion. Radiocarbon
The
      
Enclosure, Wiltshire      


long barrows near Avebury, Wiltshire. Proceedings of
the Prehistoric Society 

   
-


and other places, in   
  -
fordshire

 
decade integrating radiocarbon dates into chronologi-
cal models, in 
for Crossing Disciplinary Boundaries
 
 Dating
Science and Stonehenge



for the Neolithic.
-
sis of stratigraphy. Radiocarbon
Radiocarbon

 Development of the radiocarbon
calibration program. Radiocarbon
-
       
    Archaeometry  
Archaeometry
        
     
Radiocarbon
 
Radio-
carbon
Proceedings

et al.
of the Prehistoric Society 

Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine

      
Distribution, morphology and artefacts, in Megalithic
Enquiries in the West of Britain,   
    

   The Megalithic Chambered Tombs of the
Cotswold-Severn Region
Land Snails in Archaeology-
nar Press.




      
Journal of Archaeological Science 
        
       
  Archaeometry   Archaeometry

      Avebury  -
worth.
 The date of
the West Kennet long barrow. Antiquity

      
ArchaeometryArchaeometry
      
involvement with human remains, in Forensic Tapho-
      , eds.
   

 
search strategy considerations for locating missing
teeth, in      
Human Remains,      

-

developments in routine dating. Archaeometry 

 -
treatment system and the pretreatment of older and
contaminated samples. Radiocarbon
-
humations, in Death, Decay and Reconstruction, eds. A.
-

        
Report on Geophysical Survey, January 2001. (Centre for
    
Heritage.
        .

       
  C measurement of
C variations from 
. Radiocarbon

1955–56

on Overton Hill, Avebury. Wiltshire Archaeological and
Natural History Magazine

Landscape
 
       
       

  -
  
        
    

. Radiocarbon
  
to understanding mortuary behaviour, in Advances in

Perspectives  


Long Cairn of the Cotswold-Severn Group-
lish Heritage.
Windmill Hill and Avebury-
don Press.
 C data. Ra-
diocarbon
 A computer program for ra-
diocarbon age calculation. Radiocarbon
       C data base
C age calibration program.
Radiocarbon


-
. Radiocarbon 

Kennet revisited. Oxford Journal of Archaeology 5,

        
long barrow at West Kennet, Wiltshire. Archaeologia

        
 
facility. Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics
Research B
        
preparation for Accelerator-based radiocarbon dating.
Journal of Archaeological Science
 Procedures for comparing
     
Archaeometry
The West Ken-
56  


Date of the West Kennet Long Barrow
        -
    
Oxford Journal of Archaeology
      
    
Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine

Sacred Mound, Holy Rings. Silbury Hill and
       
Complex in North Wiltshire
-

events, processes and changing worldviews from the
thirty-eighth to the thirty-fourth centuries cal.  in
southern Britain.



... used over a short period beginning in the late thirty-eighth/early thirty-seventh centuries cal. BC 2007c;Meadows et al. 2007;Whittle et al. 2007a;Wysocki et al. 2007; see also Darvill 2004). General parallels have of course long been drawn between British Cotswold-Severn tombs and Irish court tombs and they, together with the 'Clyde' chambered tombs of south-west Scotland, do seem to present variations on a common theme, though the details are debated, especially as regards the perennial question of origins (Childe 1940;Corcoran 1969;Collins 1973;de Valéra 1961;Evans 1938b;Piggott 1954;Scott 1962). ...
... The median probabilities (calibrated bc) have been used for plotting samples chronologically. Stable isotope ratios (δ 13 C and δ 15 N) are also reported for the 27 samples and compared with published stable isotope data from 85 Irish and 81 British samples 8,9,11,14,25,69,[73][74][75][76][77][78][79][80][81][82][83][84][85][86][87][88][89][90] (Fig. 1, Supplementary Table 4). The timeline in Fig. 1 is phased following ref. ...
Article
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The nature and distribution of political power in Europe during the Neolithic era remains poorly understood¹. During this period, many societies began to invest heavily in building monuments, which suggests an increase in social organization. The scale and sophistication of megalithic architecture along the Atlantic seaboard, culminating in the great passage tomb complexes, is particularly impressive². Although co-operative ideology has often been emphasised as a driver of megalith construction¹, the human expenditure required to erect the largest monuments has led some researchers to emphasize hierarchy³—of which the most extreme case is a small elite marshalling the labour of the masses. Here we present evidence that a social stratum of this type was established during the Neolithic period in Ireland. We sampled 44 whole genomes, among which we identify the adult son of a first-degree incestuous union from remains that were discovered within the most elaborate recess of the Newgrange passage tomb. Socially sanctioned matings of this nature are very rare, and are documented almost exclusively among politico-religious elites⁴—specifically within polygynous and patrilineal royal families that are headed by god-kings5,6. We identify relatives of this individual within two other major complexes of passage tombs 150 km to the west of Newgrange, as well as dietary differences and fine-scale haplotypic structure (which is unprecedented in resolution for a prehistoric population) between passage tomb samples and the larger dataset, which together imply hierarchy. This elite emerged against a backdrop of rapid maritime colonization that displaced a unique Mesolithic isolate population, although we also detected rare Irish hunter-gatherer introgression within the Neolithic population.
Article
Our ability to build precise narratives regarding megalithic societies largely depends on the chronology of the multi-ritual events that usually shaped these complex sites. The cemetery of Panoría offers an excellent opportunity for exploring ritual complexity in Iberia through radiocarbon chronology, as four of the nine recently excavated dolmens are remarkably well preserved. For this purpose, seventy-three radiocarbon dates were obtained and analysed within a Bayesian framework. The resulting refined chronology has led us to three main conclusions: i) in all tombs, the second half of the 4th millennium cal BC was an intensive but brief period of funerary depositions, probably over three to six generations; ii) after a long hiatus, most of the dolmens were reused in the 25th and 21st centuries cal BC during even shorter periods, spanning just a few decades and approximately one to four generations; and (iii) long after the funerary rituals had ended in the 21st century, the memory of the cemetery was revived in Late Antiquity. These short, punctuated periods of use are highly consistent with those seen in a growing number of European megalithic monuments. From Britain to Iberia, a pattern of short spans of use is dramatically changing our perception of the social and political roles of these complex monuments.
Article
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This article reassesses the social significance of Early Neolithic chambered tombs. It critically evaluates inferences about social organization drawn from tomb architecture and interpretations of kinship based on aDNA analyses of human remains from tombs. Adopting the perspective that kinship is a multifaceted and ongoing field of practice, it argues that the arrangement of tomb chambers was related to the negotiation of Early Neolithic kinship. Drawing together inferences about biological relatedness from aDNA analyses with interpretations of chamber arrangements, it suggests that variation in the architectural arrangements and sequential modification of chambered tombs relates to different ways of negotiating aspects of kinship, particularly descent and affinity. It presents interpretations of how kinship was negotiated at Early Neolithic tombs in different regions of Britain and Ireland and concludes that it is increasingly possible to gauge pattern and diversity in Neolithic negotiations of kinship, descent and affinity by combining different strands of evidence, including architectural arrangement.
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We undertook a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis of Northern Hemisphere tree-ring datasets included in IntCal20 in order to evaluate their strategic fit with the demands of archaeological users. Case studies on wiggle-matching single tree rings from timbers in historic buildings and Bayesian modeling of series of results on archaeological samples from Neolithic long barrows in central-southern England exemplify the archaeological implications that arise when using IntCal20. The SWOT analysis provides an opportunity to think strategically about future radiocarbon (14C) calibration so as to maximize the utility of 14C dating in archaeology and safeguard its reputation in the discipline.
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Bi-decade samples of dendrochronologically matched Irish Oak, measured with a precision of ca ± 20 years, covering the period 200 to 4000 BC are presented. The data are compared with the published data of Suess, de Jong, and Mook to provide a general calibration of the 14 C time scale for this period. Although the dendrochronologic sequences presented are not absolutely tied to present, the best fit (based on 14 C evidence) of the Belfast data to absolute chronologies, the error and evidence associated with such positioning is given. The intervals chosen for analysis were 20 years, reducing slightly the resolution of short-term variations when compared to 10-year intervals, which are sometimes measured. However, this calibration would suffice for most scientific purposes and certainly for the calendrical conversion of 14 C dates derived from archaeologic samples.
Article
A semi-automated continuous-flow system used to process archaeological bone to purified gelatin or amino acids for 14 C dating is described. Powdered bone is retained in flow cells specifically designed to permit the sequential leaching of the bone with acid, alkali and water. Crude collagen obtained by this process is gelatinized, and than either purified directly using a macroporous cation exchange resin (BioRad AGMP-50), or hydrolyzed and the amino acids desalted on BioRad 50W-X8 resin. When compared with previous methods used by the laboratory, the new method allows more samples to be treated to a higher degree of purification. Examples of dates obtained on “standard” bones are presented, and confirm that no contamination is introduced from the components used in the new process.
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In an effort to make measurements readily available as soon as possible, dates from the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator will now be published regularly in Archaeometry. These datelists will not be a substitute for final publication in Radiocarbon, which is desirable for all dates, but are intended to serve as a formal interim publication of dates, so that they can be cited.
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The three long barrows described in this report were totally excavated between 1959 and 1967. They have been presented in a single report because they had several features in common: they were in close proximity; they were built as single phase monuments; two conformed to a common specification which required elaborate internal structures; and they produced no evidence of funerary function or intent. There are four sections: I. The Horslip (or Windmill Hill) Long Barrow (P. A.). II. The Beckhampton Road Long Barrow (I.F.S.). III. The South Street Long Barrow (J.G.E.). The fourth section (IV) deals with the environmental history of the area as revealed in the long barrow soils and sediments (J.G.E.).
Article
The investigation described in the following paper may perhaps throw some light on the nature of those remarkable sepulchral mounds, known as “long barrows,” which as yet remain the crux and problem of the barrow-digger and archæologist. Many of the long barrows of South Wiltshire were examined at the beginning of this century by Mr. Cunnington and Sir Richard Colt Hoare; but with so little return for the pains bestowed on them, that, though Sir Richard was satisfied of their high antiquity, he was utterly at a loss to determine the purpose for which such immense mounds had been raised. In another part of his “Ancient Wiltshire,” he tells us that he and his colleague “had at length given up all researches in them, having for many years in vain looked for that information which might tend to throw some satisfactory light on their history.” In the various long barrows which were opened by these investigators, we find that, with very few exceptions, human skeletons were discovered on the floor of the barrow, at the broad, or east end, “lying in a confused and irregular manner, and generally covered with a pile of stones or flints.” The total absence of bronze weapons, of all personal ornaments, and of urns of pottery, such as were constantly found by them in the circular barrows of the same district, is repeatedly noticed by Sir Richard Hoare, who observes that “their original purport is still involved in obscurity, and a further explanation of them would be a great desideratum.”
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Taking grave and non-grave pottery together, five summary regional groups of beaker pottery are proposed for Britain and Ireland: Group A, Ireland; Group B, north Britain and eventually widespread; Group C, north and to some extent south Britain; Group D, south Britain; and Group E, East Anglia and south-east England. It is anticipated that further discoveries and research will enable these groups to be refined regionally. These groups are set in a quarter-millennium calendrical chronology, which suggests that they may all have appeared around or near the mid-3rd millennium BC, and that many of their aspects were long enduring, some surviving to the 2nd quarter of the 2nd millennium BC. Decorative features especially are related to bell-beaker pottery in western Europe, to Single Grave pottery across the North Sea, and to native Late Neolithic pottery. In presenting the chronology of these relationships, it is argued that a widely held view that bell-beaker pottery evolved in north-west Europe requires modification.