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Art in the making: Neolithic societies in Britain, Ireland and Iberia

papers in honour of alasdair Whittle
papers in honour of alasdair Whittle
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Front cover: Alleskoven dolmen, Denmark (Vicki Cummings).
Back cover: La Table des Marchands, France (Vicki Cummings); a reconstructed LBK longhouse in the Paris basin (Penny Bickle);
Carrowmore, Ireland (Vicki Cummings); an excavation in progress at the Herpaly tell, Hungary (Pál Raczky).
List of gures vii
List of tables xi
List of contributors xii
Tabula gratulatoria xv
1. Introduction: Alasdair Whittle and the Neolithic of Europe 1
Joshua Pollard, Penny Bickle, Vicki Cummings and Daniela Hofmann
2. ‘Very like the Neolithic’: the everyday and settlement in the European Neolithic 7
Penny Bickle and Evita Kalogiropoulou
3. The end of the tells: the Iron Age ‘Neolithic’ in the central and northern Aegean 24
James Whitley
4. Encounters in the watery realm: early to mid-Holocene geochronologies of
Lower Danube human–river interactions 35
Steve Mills, Mark Macklin and Pavel Mirea
5. Buried in mud, buried in clay: specially arranged settlement burials from in and around the
Danubian Sárköz, Neolithic southern Hungary 47
Eszter Bánffy, János Jakucs, Kitti Köhler, Tibor Marton,
Krisztián Oross and Anett Osztás
6. Thechosenones:unconventionalburialsatPolgár–Csőszhalom(north-eastHungary)
fromthefthmillenniumcalBC 63
Pál Raczky and Alexandra Anders
7. A tale of two processes of Neolithisation: south-east Europe and Britain/Ireland 82
Rick Schulting and Dušan Borić
8. Stag do: ritual implications of antler use in prehistory 107
László Bartosiewicz, Alice M. Choyke and Fon Reynolds
9. Towards an integrated bioarchaeological perspective on the central European Neolithic: understanding the pace
and rhythm of social processes through comparative discussion of the western loess belt and Alpine foreland 120
Amy Bogaard, Stefanie Jacomet and Jörg Schibler
10. Size matters? Exploring exceptional buildings in the central European early Neolithic 145
Daniela Hofmann and Eva Lenneis
11. Feastsandsacrices:fthmillennium‘pseudo-ditch’causewayedenclosuresfromthesouthern
Upper Rhine valley 159
Philippe Lefranc, Anthony Denaire and Rose-Marie Arbogast
12. From Neolithic kings to the Staffordshire hoard. Hoards and aristocratic graves in the European Neolithic:
the birth of a ‘Barbarian’ Europe? 175
Christian Jeunesse
13. Sudden time? Natural disasters as a stimulus to monument building, from Silbury Hill (Great Britain)
to Antequera (Spain) 188
Richard Bradley and Leonardo García Sanjuán
14. Art in the making: Neolithic societies in Britain, Ireland and Iberia 201
Andrew Meirion Jones, Andrew Cochrane and Marta Diaz-Guardamino
15. Community building: houses and people in Neolithic Britain 222
Alistair J. Barclay and Oliver J. T. Harris
16. Passage graves as material technologies of wrapping 235
Vicki Cummings and Colin Richards
17. RingsofreandGroovedWaresettlementatWestKennet,Wiltshire 249
Alex Bayliss, Caroline Cartwright, Gordon Cook, Seren Grifths, Richard Madgwick, Peter Marshall
and Paula Reimer
18. Rememberedandimaginedbelongings:Stonehengeintheageofrstmetals 279
Joshua Pollard, Paul Garwood, Mike Parker Pearson, Colin Richards, Julian Thomas and Kate Welham
19. Interdigitating pasts: the Irish and Scottish Neolithics 298
Alison Sheridan
Figure 2.1. Map of Europe indicating the regions discussed in this paper.
Figure 2.2. Distribution of sites in northern Greece. A) Macedonia; B) western Thrace.
Figure 2.3. Example of building and thermal structure associations from the Neolithic site Avgi I in Kastoria.
Figure 2.4. Distribution of sites in the Paris basin.
Figure 2.5. Examples of longhouse plans from the RRBP (A–C) and VSG (D–F) in the Paris basin.
Figure 3.1. Plan of the Aegean showing sites mentioned in text.
Figure 3.2. Plan of Lefkandi, Xeropolis.
Figure 3.3. Plan of Vardaroftsa (modern Axiochori), showing the relationship between the central tell (toumba) and its
surrounding tables (trapezes).
Figure 3.4. Photo of the toumba of Saratsé (modern Perivolaki).
Figure 4.1. Map showing main geographic features, rivers and sites mentioned in the text.
Figure 4.2. Geomorphological map of the Teleorman valley (SRAP) study area showing river terraces, palaeochannels,
and location of archaeological sites.
Figure4.3. MapoftheTurnuMăgurele–Zimniceastudyareashowingmainfeaturesandsitesmentionedinthetext.
Figure 5.1. Map of the study area with the main sites mentioned in the text.
Figure 5.2. Human remains inside ovens from Alsónyék.
Figure 5.3. Feature 1531 from Alsónyék: a complete human skeleton and part of a fragmented skull found inside an
Figure5.4. Pit3036fromSzederkény-Kukorica-dűlő,whichcontainedremainsoffourindividuals.
Figure 5.5. Feature 65 from Fajsz-Garadomb: secondary burial.
Figure5.6. Fragmentedclaygurinesunearthedinfeature65fromFajsz-Garadomb.
Figure6.1. Polgár-Csőszhalom.1:thetopographyofthetellandthehorizontalsettlement;2:magnetometricplanof
the site with the excavated areas and the locations of the burials mentioned in the text.
Figure6.2. Polgár-Csőszhalom.Distributionof16gravegoodtypesinburialsfurnishedwithvariousartefacts.
Figure6.3. Burial1.Polgár-Csőszhalom,tellsettlement–grave3.
Figure6.4. Burial2.Polgár-Csőszhalom,horizontalsettlement.Detailfromfeature836/1827.
Figure6.5. Burial2.Polgár-Csőszhalom,horizontalsettlementeastofthetell-enclosurecomplex–feature836/1827.
Figure6.6. Burial2.Polgár-Csőszhalom,horizontalsettlementeastofthetell-enclosurecomplex–feature836/1827,
grave goods.
Figure6.7. Burial3.Polgár-Csőszhalom,horizontalsettlementwestofthemaintell-enclosurecomplex–Str.265.
Figure6.8. Burial4.Polgár-Csőszhalom,horizontalsettlement,feature5/122.
Figure 7.1. Map showing locations of key sites mentioned in the text.
Figure7.2. Plotofδ13Candδ15N values on Mesolithic and early/middle Neolithic human bone collagen from south-
east Europe.
Figure7.3. Plotofδ13Candδ15N values on Mesolithic and early Neolithic human bone collagen from the Danube
Gorges area.
Figure7.4. Comparisonbetweenδ34Sandδ15N values on the same individuals from the Danube Gorges area by main
chronological periods.
List of gures
Figure7.5. Post-weaninghumanbone/dentinecollagenδ13Candδ15N values from coastal/near-coastal Mesolithic and
Neolithic sites in Britain and Ireland.
Figure7.6. Humanbone/toothcollagenδ13C values from British and Irish Neolithic coastal and near-coastal sites
plotted against the average of the 95.4% range of the calibrated radiocarbon date.
Figure7.7. Humanbone/toothcollagenδ13Candδ15N values from inland and coastal Neolithic sites in Ireland, Wales,
England and Scotland.
Figure7.8. Average±2standarderrorsforδ13Candδ15N values on human bone/tooth collagen from inland and
coastal Neolithic sites in Britain and Ireland.
Figure8.1. ApproximateareasofCelticandScythianinuenceinnorthernHungaryduringtheIronAge.
Figure8.2. ThepercentualdistributionofidentiableIronAgeanimalbonesatSajópetri–Hosszú-dűlő.
Figure 8.3. The anatomical position of the worked stag skull fragment.
Figure8.4. Frontalviewofthestagskullfragmentwithnecutmarkatthebaseoftherightpedicle.
Figure 8.5. Fronto-occipital view of the stag skull fragment with rough cut mark in the parietal region on the right side.
Figure 8.6. The inner view of the stag skull fragment, showing the well preserved surface of the brain case.
Figure 8.7. The location of posthole 95.34 in relation to other features in the south-western section of the Sajópetri–
Figure8.8. TheagedistributionofmajoranimalgroupsexploitedatSajópetri–Hosszú-dűlő.
Figure8.9. ThestandardscoresofreddeerbonemeasurementsfromSajópetri–Hosszú-dűlőinrelationtotheaverage
of Bronze Age red deer in Hungary.
Figure8.10. CernunnosontherstcenturyPillaroftheBoatmenintheMuseédeClunyinParis.
Figure 8.11. Cernunnos depicted on the inside plate No. C 6571 of the Gundestrup cauldron from Denmark.
Figure 8.12. Imaginary reconstruction of the way a Palaeolithic reindeer antler decoy might have been used.
Figure 8.13. Image of a stag tattoed on the left shoulder of the ‘Princess of Ukok’ 2500 years ago.
Figure 8.14. Marsigli’s depiction of a ‘deer of plenty’.
Figure 8.15. Remains of red deer trophies recovered near the middle Bronze Age palisade at Jászdózsa–Kápolnahalom,
Figure 9.1. Chronology table with the cultural groups mentioned in the text.
Figure 9.2. Map of the area considered in this paper, with location of the regions mentioned.
Figure 9.3. Importance of domestic and wild animals in Neolithic lakeshore settlements of central and eastern
Figure 9.4. Comparison between importance of wild animals based on numbers of bone fragments, site type and
Figure 10.1. Map of LBK distribution with main sites mentioned in the text.
Figure 10.2. Bylany, house 306 as one example of tripartite houses on a south–north slope.
Figure 10.3. Plan of Harting. Exceptionally long buildings are shaded.
Figure10.4. Simpliedplanofhouses9and10atHarting.
Figure 10.5. Plan of Geleen-Janskamperveld showing different house types.
Figure 10.6. A type 1a house (house 24) from Geleen-Janskamperveld.
Figure 10.7. Bipartite house types of Cuiry-lès-Chaudardes compared to tripartite LBK Großbauten from Miskovice,
Figure 10.8. Stock breeding and game in relation to house size at Cuiry-lès-Chaudardes.
Figure 10.9. Relation of domesticated animals and game on the basis of bone weight at Mold.
Figure 11.1. Evolutionary scheme of a ‘pseudo-ditched’ enclosure.
Figure11.2. Distributionof‘pseudo-ditched’enclosuresinthersthalfofthefthmillenniumcalBCinEurope.
Figure11.3. SimpliedchronologicalsequenceoftheNeolithicculturesinthesouthernUpperRhineplain(5300–4000
cal BC).
Figure 11.4. Distribution of Alastian enclosures mentioned in the text.
Figure 11.5. Plan of the Planig-Friedberg/Rössen period enclosure at Vendenheim ‘Aux portes du Kochersberg’.
Figure 11.6. Plan of the Rössen period enclosure at Meistratzheim ‘Station d’épuration’.
Figure 11.7. Plan of the Bischheim period enclosure at Schwindratzheim and its pseudo-ditch sections.
Figure 11.8. Plan of the Bischheim/Bruebach-Oberbergen period enclosure at Duntzenheim ‘Frauenabwand’.
Figure 11.9. Plan of the Bischheim–BORS enclosure at Entzheim ‘Les Terres de la Chapelle’.
Figure11.10. SectionveoftheEntzheim‘LesTerresdelaChapelle’enclosure,showingitsconstitutivesegmentsand
pseudo-ditch sections.
List of gures ix
Figure 11.11. Distribution of pig mandibles at Duntzenheim ‘Frauenabwand’.
Figure 12.1. Miniature bronze cult wagons from G1 graves. 1: Trudshøj; 2: Strettweg.
Figure12.2. TheBajčgrave,lateLBK,Slovakia.
Figure12.3. Brześć-KujawskicultureG2graveofawomanfromKruszaZamkova,Poland.
Figure 13.1. The Locmariaquer monument complex.
Figure 13.2. Le Grand Menhir Brisé.
Figure 13.3. Interior general view of Menga (Antequera, Málaga, Spain).
Figure 13.4. Excavation in progress at Menga’s well in 2005.
Figure 13.5. La Peña de los Enamorados (Antequera, Málaga, Spain) at dusk from the east.
Figure 13.6. Camorro de las Siete Mesas in El Torcal’s karstic landscape (Antequera, Málaga, Spain).
Figure 13.7. Diagram showing the aggregated radiocarbon dates for El Toro, Menga and Viera, together with El
Aguadero ‘Axarquía E-[0-9]–[0-9]’ earthquake.
Figure 14.1. Fourknocks I, Co. Meath.
Figure 14.2. Orthostat L19, Newgrange Site 1, Co. Meath.
Figure 14.3. Rock art at Drumsinnot, Co. Louth, Ireland.
Figure 14.4. Partially erased eyebrow motif on the face of Folkton drum 2 (Folkton, North Yorkshire, Britain). Left: line
Imaging specular enhancement mode.
Figure 14.5. Detail of a decorated menhir, found grouped with seven other menhirs near the village of Figueira (Budens,
Vila do Bispo, Portugal).
Figure 14.6. Menhir 1 of Padrão (Vila do Bispo, Portugal).
Figure 14.7. Decorated orthostats in the gallery grave of Soto 1 (Trigueros, Huelva, Spain). Orthostat I23, a reused
statue-menhir, shows a ‘T’-shaped motif in low relief on its lower end, interpreted as an inverted face.
Figure 14.8. Tracing of one of the orthostats of the dolmen of Monte dos Marxos (Rodeiro, Pontevedra, Spain).
Figure 14.9. Multiple plot of the calibrated probability distributions for the radiocarbon measurements mentioned in the
Figure14.10. ViewofaatareaofthePedradasFerraduras(Fentáns,Pontevedra,Spain),showingaseriesof
engravings attributed to the Neolithic.
Figure 14.11. Detail of panel 4 in the Cueva del Castillo (Monfragüe, Cáceres, Spain). The tracing shows a complex
series of superimposed motifs.
Figure 14.12. Grave goods documented in the passage grave of Anta Grande da Ordem (Portalegre, Alentejo, Portugal),
including various decorated stone plaques.
Figure 15.1. Comparative range of early Neolithic buildings from Britain and Ireland.
Figure 15.2. Comparative plans of White Horse Stone, Lismore Fields and Horton.
Figure 15.3. Comparative ‘villages’ – Horton, Lismore Fields and Corbally.
Figure 15.4. Comparative use ‘spans’ of the structures at White Horse Stone, Horton house 1 and Warren Field.
Figure 16.1. Aerial view of Maeshowe passage grave.
Figure 16.2. View of the Maeshowe ditch as a container of water.
Figure 16.3. The passage grave at Newgrange Site K.
Figure 16.4. The Newgrange passage grave.
Figure 16.5. The smaller passage graves at Knowth surrounding the main mound.
Figure 16.6. The central passage grave at Knowth is surrounded by earlier passage graves.
Figure 16.7. Plan and section of Bryn Celli Ddu, showing the unusual location of the kerb.
Figure 16.8. The large standing stone in the chamber at Bryn Celli Ddu.
Figure 16.9. Burial cist B was one of the primary features within the passage grave of Quanterness.
Figure 17.1. Alasdair Whittle directing excavations at Windmill Hill in 1988.
Figure 17.2. Overall plan of the West Kennet palisade enclosures showing the locations of the dated samples.
Figure 17.3. Probability distributions of dates from the West Kennet palisaded enclosures. Each distribution represents
the relative probability that an event occurs at a particular time.
Figure 17.4. Probability distributions for the number of years between the constructions of the two palisaded enclosures
at West Kennet.
Figure 17.5. Probability distributions for the construction of the West Kennet palisaded enclosures following alternative
archaeological interpretations.
Figure 17.6. Probability distributions of dates from the West Kennet Grooved Ware settlement.
List of gures
Figure 17.7. Probability distribution for the number of years during which settlement activity occurred at West Kennet.
Figure 17.8. Probability distributions for the number of years between the constructions of the palisaded enclosures and
the Grooved Ware settlement at West Kennet.
Figure 17.9. Probability distributions of dates from Neolithic activity in the Avebury area.
Figure 17.10. Probability distributions of dates for late Neolithic activity on Windmill Hill.
Figure 17.11. Probability distributions of dates from the Longstones enclosure.
Figure 17.12. Probability distributions for the number of years between the foundation of the Grooved Ware settlement at
West Kennet and completion of the lower organic mound in the centre of Silbury Hill.
Figure 17.13. Probability distributions of dates associated with Beaker pottery in the Avebury area.
Figure 17.14. Probability distributions of dates from Neolithic linear monuments.
Figure 17.15. Key parameters for estimated dates of construction for selected middle Neolithic monuments in England.
Figure 17.16. Probability distributions of dates from other palisade enclosures in Britain.
Figure 17.17. Key parameters for palisaded enclosures in Britain.
Figure 18.1. Stonehenge and its landscape.
Figure 18.2. Principal features of Stonehenge Stage 3.
Figure 18.3. Principal features of Stonehenge Stage 4.
Figure 18.4. Principal features of Stonehenge Stage 5.
Figure 18.5. The distribution of Beaker and early Bronze Age ceramics within Stonehenge.
Figure 18.6. Axe and dagger carvings on stones 4 and 53.
Figure 18.7. Detail of the south-eastern sector of Stonehenge during Stages 4 and 5, showing features related to the
marking of the midwinter sunrise and/or southernmost moonrise.
Figure18.8. Areasof(a)earlyBronzeAgesettlementand(b)middleBronzeAgeeldsystemsintheStonehenge
Figure 18.9. The Palisade/Gate Ditch.
Figure 18.10. The Palisade Ditch under excavation, with sheep burial in late phase pit.
Figure 19.1. Breton-style monuments: Achnacreebeag and Ballintoy; distribution; Breton-style late Castellic pot from
Achnacreebeag; supposed route taken by Breton settlers.
Figure 19.2. Castellic pottery in the Morbihan region of Brittany and in Normandy and some of its ceramic
‘descendants’ in Scotland and Ireland.
Figure 19.3. The Carinated Bowl Neolithic: examples of pottery, and hypothetical route taken by settlers from northern
France and their descendants.
Figure 19.4. Antrim porcellanite axeheads (and related implements): complete axe found at Shulishader, Isle of Lewis;
distribution as of 1986; Irish distribution as of 1998.
Figure19.5. AxeheadsfromhoardofAntrimintitemsfoundatAuchenhoan;pitchstonecorefromNappan;map
showing directions in which Arran pitchstone travelled during the Neolithic.
Figure 19.6. Clyde cairn at East Bennan, Arran, and court tomb at Creggandevesky, Co. Tyrone, showing the striking
similarities between these cognate monuments.
Figure 19.7. Fourth millennium ceramic connections between Ireland and Scotland.
Figure 19.8. Map showing part of the south-west spread of ideas, practices and objects from Orkney towards Ireland at
the beginning of the third millennium, highlighting early Grooved Ware and stone/timber circles.
List of tables
Table 6.1. The14CdatesfromPolgár-Csőszhalommentionedinthetext.
Table 7.1. Mesolithic and early/middle Neolithic human stable isotope values in south-east Europe.
Table 7.2. Mesolithic and early/middle Neolithic human stable isotope values in Britain and Ireland.
Table7.3. AverageNeolithichumanδ13Candδ15N values (± 1 SD) by region from coastal and inland sites in Britain
and Ireland.
Table9.1. ComparisonofdrylandsitesandwaterloggedwellllsofdifferentLBKsites.
Table 13.1. Selection of radiocarbon dates for Menga and Viera (Antequera, Málaga, Spain).
Table 14.1. Radiocarbon dates mentioned in the text.
Table 17.1. West Kennet palisade enclosures – radiocarbon and stable isotope measurements.
Table 17.2. Radiocarbon and stable isotope measurements from selected English and Welsh palisaded enclosures.
Table 17.3. Radiocarbon and stable isotope measurements from selected English cursus.
List of contributors
AlexAndrA Anders
Institute of Archaeological Sciences, Eötvös Loránd
rose-MArie ArbogAst
Université Marc Bloch, UMR 7044, 5 allée du Général
Rouvillois, 67083 Strasbourg, France
eszter bánffy
Deutsches Archäologisches Institut, Römisch-Germanische
Kommission, Palmengartenstr. 10–12, 60325 Frankfurt,
AlistAir bArclAy
Wessex Archaeology, Portway House, Old Sarum Park,
Salisbury, SP4 6EB, UK
lászló bArtosiewicz
Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies, University
of Stockholm, Lilla Frescativägen 7, 10691 Stockholm,
Alex bAyliss
Historic England, 1 Waterhouse Square, 138–42 Holborn,
London, EC1N 2ST, UK
Penny bickle
Department of Archaeology, University of York, The King’s
Manor, York YO1 7EP, UK
AMy bogAArd
School of Archaeology, University of Oxford, 36 Beaumont
Street, Oxford OX1 2PG, UK
Dušan Borić
School of History, Archaeology and Religion, Cardiff
University, John Percival Building, Colum Drive, Cardiff
CF10 3EU, UK
richArd brAdley
School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental
Science, University of Reading, PO Box 227, Reading
cAroline cArtwright
DepartmentofConservationandScientic Research, The
British Museum, Great Russell Street, London WC1B
Alice M. choyke
Department of Medieval Studies, Central European
University, Nádor utca 9, 1051 Budapest, Hungary
Andrew cochrAne
School of History, Archaeology and Religion, Cardiff
University, John Percival Building, Colum Drive, Cardiff
CF10 3EU, UK
gordon cook
SUERC Radiocarbon Dating Laboratory, Scottish Enterprise
Technology Park, Rankine Avenue, East Kilbride G75 0QF,
Vicki cuMMings
School of Forensic and Applied Sciences, University of
Central Lancashire, Preston PR1 2HE, UK
Anthony denAire
Université de Strasbourg, UMR 7044, 5 allée du Général
Rouvillois, 67083 Strasbourg, France
MArtA diAz-guArdAMino
Department of Archaeology, University of Southampton,
leonArdo gArcíA sAnjuán
Departamento de Prehistoria y Arqueología, Universidad de
Sevilla, María de Padilla s/n. 41004 Sevilla, Spain
List of contributors xiii
PAul gArwood
School of Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology,
University of Birmingham, Arts Building Birmingham B15
seren griffiths
School of Forensic and Applied Sciences, University of
Central Lancashire, Preston PR1 2HE, UK
oliVer hArris
School of Archaeology and Ancient History, University of
Leicester, University Road, Leicester LE1 7RH, UK
dAnielA hofMAnn
Universität Hamburg, Archäologisches Institut, Edmund-
Siemers-Allee 1, Flügel West, 20146 Hamburg, Germany
stefAnie jAcoMet
Integrative prähistorische und naturwissenschaftliche
Archäologie (IPNA), Basel University, Spalenring 145,
4055 Basel, Switzerland
jános jAkucs
Institute of Archaeology, Research Centre for the
Humanities, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Úri utca 49,
1014 Budapest, Hungary
christiAn jeunesse
Université de Strasbourg – Institut Universitaire de France,
UMR 7044, 5 allée du Général Rouvillois, 67083 Strasbourg,
Andrew Meirion jones
Department of Archaeology, University of Southampton,
eVitA kAlogiroPoulou
School of History and Archaeology, Aristotle University of
Thessaloniki, 54124 Thessaloniki, Greece
kitti köhler
Institute of Archaeology, Research Centre for the
Humanities, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Úri utca 49,
1014 Budapest, Hungary
PhiliPPe lefrAnc
Université de Strasbourg, UMR 7044, 5 allée du Général
Rouvillois, 67083 Strasbourg, France
eVA lenneis
Institut für Urgeschichte und Historische Archäologie,
Universität Wien, Franz-Klein-Gasse 1, 1190 Wien, Austria
MArk MAcklin
School of Geography and Lincoln Centre for Water and
Planetary Health, University of Lincoln, Brayford Pool,
Lincoln, LN6 7TS, UK
richArd MAdgwick
School of History, Archaeology and Religion, Cardiff
University, John Percival Building, Colum Drive, Cardiff
CF10 3EU, UK
Peter MArshAll
Historic England, 1 Waterhouse Square, 138–42 Holborn,
London, EC1N 2ST, UK
tibor MArton
Institute of Archaeology, Research Centre for the
Humanities, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Úri utca 49,
1014 Budapest, Hungary
steVe Mills
School of History, Archaeology and Religion, Cardiff
University, John Percival Building, Colum Drive, Cardiff
CF10 3EU, UK
PAVel MireA
Muzeul Judeţean Teleorman, str. 1848, nr. 1, 140033
Alexandria, jud. Teleorman, Romania
krisztián oross
Institute of Archaeology, Research Centre for the
Humanities, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Úri utca 49,
1014 Budapest, Hungary
Anett osztás
Institute of Archaeology, Research Centre for the
Humanities, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Úri utca 49,
1014 Budapest, Hungary
Mike PArker PeArson
Institute of Archaeology, University College London, 31–4
Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PY, UK
joshuA PollArd
Department of Archaeology, University of Southampton,
Pál rAczky
Institute of Archaeological Sciences, Eötvös Loránd
PAulA reiMer
School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology, The
Queen’s University Belfast, Elmwood Avenue, Belfast BT7
List of contributors
ffion reynolds
School of History, Archaeology and Religion, Cardiff
University, John Percival Building, Colum Drive, Cardiff
CF10 3EU, UK
colin richArds
Institute of Archaeology, University of Highlands and
Islands, Orkney College, Kirkwall, Orkney, KW15 1LX, UK
jörg schibler
Integrative prähistorische und naturwissenschaftliche
Archäologie (IPNA), Basel University, Spalenring 145,
4055 Basel, Switzerland
rick schulting
School of Archaeology, University of Oxford, 36 Beaumont
Street, Oxford OX1 2PG, UK
Alison sheridAn
Department of Scottish History and Archaeology, National
Museums Scotland, Chambers Street, Edinburgh EH1 1JF,
juliAn thoMAs
School of Arts, Languages and Cultures, Manchester
University, Manseld Cooper Building, Manchester M13
kAte welhAM
Department of Archaeology, Anthropology and Forensic
Science, Bournemouth University, Talbot Campus, Fern
Barrow, Poole BH12 5BB, UK
jAMes whitley
School of History, Archaeology and Religion, Cardiff
University, John Percival Building, Colum Drive, Cardiff
CF10 3EU, UK
Tabula gratulatoria
In publishing this volume, the editors, contributors and publishers congratulate Alasdair on his contribution to many aspects
of prehistoric archaeology: theoretical, practical and interpretational. His work and his teaching have been inspirational to
the discipline as a whole and, in particular, to several generations of students, many of whom have gone on to make their
own contribution.
The following wish to join us in congratulating Alasdair, and in celebrating his contribution to archaeology (so far).
Umberto Alberella
Mike Allen
Luc Amkreutz
Hugo Anderson-Whymark
Carol Bibby
Niels Bleicher
Corinne Bobin
Peter Bogucki
Lisa Brown
Nigel Brown
Jessica Butt
Derek Chambers
John Chapman
Rosamund Cleal
Gabriel Cooney
John Cruse
Lech Czerniak
Patrick Daniel
Timothy Darvill
Thomas Doppler
Gundula Dorey
Renate Ebersbach
Veronica Edwards
Mike Efstathiou
Judie English
Christopher Evans
Linda Fibiger
Tony Fleming
Chris Fowler
Charles French
Vicki Harley
Frances Healy
Gill Hey
Angela Gannon
Julie Gardiner
Bisserka Gaydarska
Alex Gibson
Chris Gosden
Rose Hooker
Carleton Jones
Barbara Jones
Kristian Kristiansen
Jonathan Last
Jim Leary
Katina Lillios
Clare Litt
Leendeert Louwe-Kooijmans
Roy Loveday
Arkadiusz Marciniak
Inna Mateiciucová
Francesco Menotti
Nicky Milner
Jan Oldham
Rick Peterson
Matt Pope
Joanna Pyzel
Henrietta Quinnell
Peter Rowley-Conwy
Stephen Shennan
Wolfram Schier
Martin Smith
John Smythe
Nick Snashall
Elisabetta Starnini
Harald Stäuble
Graham Steele
Patricia Steele
Stephen Taylor
Soultana-Maria Valamoti
Tina Walkling
Graeme Warren
Chris Williams
Michael Wysocki
Istvan Zalai-Gáal
Andrea Zeeb-Lanz
Art in the making: Neolithic societies in Britain, Ireland and Iberia
Andrew Meirion Jones, Andrew Cochrane and Marta Diaz-Guardamino
Art is often marginalised in discussions of the Neolithic.
Images of gurines, rock art and passage tomb art typically
grace the front cover of books on agricultural societies but
are often poorly integrated in the content of these books. Our
contention is that art is in fact a signicant component of
Neolithic life, and should be discussed alongside the panoply
of other elements that make up the usual debates relating to
the Neolithic, be it agriculture, sedentism, human–animal
relations, monumentality or material culture.
The study of Neolithic art and imagery is partial and
fragmentary. Partial because certain phenomena are accorded
excessive signicance over other less studied regions and
chronological periods. Examples of partiality would include
the emphasis on the passage tomb art of Ireland or Brittany
and the gurine traditions of the Balkans. By contrast, the
study of open-air rock art would be a good example of
a phenomenon that has seen less attention in British and
Irish scholarship (see e.g. Bradley 1997; O’Connor 2006),
and only a little more in Spanish and Portuguese (Acosta
1968; Baptista 1983; Bradley 2002; Fairén-Jiménez 2015)
compared to the passage tomb art phenomenon. Fragmentary
because connections are not made between what are viewed
as isolated phenomena. It is only relatively recently that the
connections between open-air rock art and passage tomb art
in Ireland were discussed and established (O’Connor 2006;
Shee Twohig 2012). While connections between passage
tomb art, rock art and the decorated artefacts of the Neolithic
of these regions have been discussed, until now they have
not received systematic study and analysis.
While Neolithic art has not been one of Alasdair’s central
concerns, he has made contributions to debates in this area,
most notably in relation to the representational imagery of the
decorated menhirs of Brittany (Whittle 2000). Meanwhile it
is well-known that Alasdair has made immense contributions
to the comparative analyses of Neolithic societies across
Europe (e.g. Bailey et al. 2005; 2008; Bickle and Whittle
2013; Whittle 1977; 1996; 2003; Whittle and Bickle 2014;
Whittle and Cummings 2007). Here we continue some of
the debates begun by Alasdair by comparing the role of art,
imagery and decoration in two different regions of Europe:
Britain and Ireland, and the Iberian peninsula. Our aim in
doing this is to move beyond the partial and fragmentary
approaches of previous accounts, to instead examine art and
imagery as a holistic phenomenon and to compare and assess
its role for Neolithic societies in each region.
Although Alasdair’s primary publications have not
focused on art, he did encourage a young undergraduate (one
of the authors: AC), to pursue research into passage tomb art.
Alasdair remained AC’s supervisor throughout his Masters
and PhD; AC would not have studied this material were it
not for Alasdair’s support and wisdom. His colleague Doug
Bailey once joked, ‘how did an Alasdair student end up doing
art?!’ When AC asked Alasdair why, if he loved the subject
so much, he was not studying it himself, Alasdair replied that
he always wanted to, but there was not enough time in the
world. AC aims to continue the study of art and archaeology,
in Alasdair’s honour, and as an on-going vote of thanks.
Passage tombs and rock art in Britain and Ireland
The making of marks in stone is a characteristic of both
open-air rock surfaces and upstanding monuments within the
Art is not what you see, but what you make others see
Edgar Degas
Andrew Meirion Jones, Andrew Cochrane and Marta Diaz-Guardamino
Neolithic of Britain and Ireland. In many ways it is similar
to the rock art of Iberia (see below). What highlights this
art as different to other areas of Europe is an emphasis on
non-representational geometric carvings. Studies of open-air
rock art in Britain have tended to focus on landscape location
to provide a context for interpretation (e.g. Bradley 1997).
Studies of passage tomb imagery have focused on structural
symbolic analyses (e.g. Bradley 1998; Thomas 1990; Tilley
1991) and ‘hermeneutic’ interpretations (e.g. Thomas 1992;
1993), or have compared motifs with images generated
during altered states of consciousness (e.g. Droneld 1995;
1996; Lewis-Williams and Dowson 1993). A common
denominator over the last 150 years has been a perspective
that see the images as texts to be read. Following Box
(1979, 202), Cochrane and Jones (2012) have demonstrated
how these interpretations are importantly one-dimensional
and misguided. Alternative models have been developed
which blend image position within rock art panels, passage
tombs and the environment (e.g. Cochrane 2012a; 2013;
Cochrane et al. 2015; Jones in press; O’Sullivan 2013;
Shee Twohig 1996; 2012; Thomas 2001). Such movements
are interested in the relationships between things during
particular moments in time.
Images without an end – passage tombs
Passage tombs are arguably the most famous monument type
in Ireland, with the Boyne Valley complex, Co. Meath, often
attracting the most attention (Fig. 14.1). Although our current
understandings of passage tomb chronologies in Ireland are
limited, it is estimated that they originated within the third
quarter of the fourth millennium cal BC and continued to
be constructed until the early third millennium (cf. Bayliss
and O’Sullivan 2013; Cooney et al. 2011; O’Sullivan
2005). Passage tombs consist of a large sub-circular cairn
revetted by a continuous kerb of large stones; this kerb is a
distinctive feature of many examples. Cairn sizes vary but
are normally between 10 and 80m in diameter. The cairn
covers a megalithic structure consisting of a chamber with
an aperture leading to the exterior, often via the eponymous
passage (Coffey 1912, 102; Collins 1960; Collins and
Waterman 1952, 28; cf. Droneld 1994, 75; Herity 1974,
22; Shee Twohig 1981, 204). Imagery on passage tombs
is non-representational and consists of geometric motifs,
occurring on the kerbstones and the interior structural stones.
The tombs in the Boyne Valley, Co. Meath, form the richest
area of megalithic motifs in western Europe (Eogan 1986;
O’Sullivan 1993; Shee Twohig 1981). Images can be on
Figure 14.1. Fourknocks I, Co. Meath (image: courtesy of Ken Williams).
14. Art in the making: Neolithic societies in Britain, Ireland and Iberia 203
the front and backs of stones, meaning that some images
would not have been seen once the stone was positioned in
the monument. An interesting feature of passage tombs in
Ireland is the general priority of ‘dexter over sinister’ (Herity
1974, 123), reected in the size of the right hand recesses,
the motifs, materials and human remains.
Such a wealth of imagery suggests that, contrary to
Herity’s arguments (1974, 107), the motifs were not a
‘by-product’ or surplus extra. Rather their importance was
integral to the motivations that helped create the monuments
and subsequent encounters with them (Cochrane 2006, 254).
In fact, Robin’s (2009; 2010; 2012) recent work demonstrates
that passage tomb art and passage tomb construction are
closely interwoven. Art is carved at signicant junctures as
the passage tomb is being constructed (Fig. 14.2).
Jones (2001, 335; see also O’Sullivan 1986; Shee Twohig
1996) has argued that many studies dislocate panels and
motifs from their original contexts and present them in
isolation, in two-dimensional form, predominantly in black
and white line drawing on paper – a practice that privileges
Figure 14.2. Orthostat L19, Newgrange Site 1, Co. Meath (image:
courtesy of Ken Williams).
the static form of the motifs over more uid processes (see
Jones 2004). Such conventions create a situation where
the spectator, in studying motifs in a corpus (e.g. O’Kelly
1973; Shee Twohig 1981), is under the illusion that the
image is a ‘realistic’ representation of the original design
(Jones 2001) and is also given an observer-imposed
selection of acceptable images (O’Sullivan 1986, 71). The
presentation of motifs in this format also can facilitate
the selective representation of panels to reinforce a point
(Shee Twohig 2000, 91). When modern spectators engage
with passage tomb motifs, many see them as complete
compositions. These images did not always appear as one
exhaustive display; there were episodes and sequences,
be it by substitution or replacement of existing motifs by
imposed motifs (Cochrane 2006; Eogan 1997; Jones 2004).
O’Sullivan (1986; 1996) detailed the sequences from a
standard geometric style, through to an extreme pick-
dressing style as a nal and mature phase (O’Kelly 1971;
Shee Twohig 2000). Although carved into stone, passage
tomb images are by no means static or permanent. Part of
Figure 14.3. Rock art at Drumsinnot, Co. Louth, Ireland (image:
courtesy of Ken Williams).
Andrew Meirion Jones, Andrew Cochrane and Marta Diaz-Guardamino
their signicance (if any) probably derives as much from
the acts of making as from reception. From such a position,
we can regard the images less as signs and more as marks
(Jones and Díaz-Guardamino in press). Mark making is a
process and performance; thinking through such modes
allows us consider the implications of re-enactment and
replication (see discussions in Cochrane 2006, 266; Dawson
and Minkin 2014).
Such images are not performed in isolation; the motifs
and the architecture of the tomb are often collaborating
together. Robin (2010, 389) describes the impact of
threshold-motifs, occurring at significant junctions or
liminal crossings (see also Cochrane 2006, 169; Sharples
1984, 116–7). Such relationships are powerful and can
enhance a feeling of movement within the tomb (Cochrane
2012b; Lewis-Williams and Dowson 1993; Thomas 1990;
1992). It can also be humbling and overwhelming – visual
saturation. Decorated stones can stimulate senses of isolation
with incorporation (Lewis-Williams and Dowson 1993, 60;
Robin 2012, 390). Here, images are not passively awaiting
thoughtful humans, to overlay and then decode messages.
Indeed, architecture working with motifs can actively create
fragmentation and the delay of communication.
Recent work has indicated that there were rhythms and
temporalities within the construction of many of the tombs.
For instance, the excavation of the large mound at Knowth
Site 1 detailed two successive phases of tomb building, termed
Tombs 1B and 1C (Cleary and Eogan in press). Construction
commenced with a stone cairn that covered the west and
east chambers and their passages (Tomb 1B). This was
enhanced by extensions to both passages and enlargements
to the mound (Cleary and Eogan in press). As with the
images, mounds are not passive indexes, and they were not
merely protective covers for the tombs (Robin 2010, 373–4).
The tomb architecture, kerbs, ditches, enclosures, images,
the things within and varied layers of mound material were
part of working networks of performances. Although the
mounds can often appear less than symmetrical, they are not
asymmetrical. There are generally no overarching divisions
of the predominance of right over left (Herity 1974, 123), as
is seen in the layout of the passage tombs (Robin 2010, 400).
The mounds can be composed of varied deposits, including
yellow clay, shingle, sandy soils, cairn material, gravel, shale,
stone enclosures/features and turf layers (Cleary and Eogan in
press; Hartnett 1957; 1971; Robin 2010). It appears that the
construction of the mounds was not random; some elements
may have been incorporated for their abilities to stem water
percolation (O’Kelly 1982, 22; Robin 2010, 383), others
for their smell, texture and visual impact (e.g. the yellow
clay). Why would people invest so much time and effort into
developing a sequence within a mound that cannot be seen?
One answer might be that it was the performance of creating
the mound that was important. It was the acts of making and
interacting with different things that brought forth particular
signicances, beyond what could or could not be seen when
it was ‘nished’. These engagements may have included
stiffness from exertion, hot sweat on a cold morning, the
stone that cut the nger and emotional satisfaction. Such
performances involved things coming together, collaborating
and building a common world. The late twentieth-century
artist Marcel Duchamp termed similar acts ‘canned chance’
(Duchamp 1973, 33). Results may vary.
Passage tomb complexes have distinct personalities;
idiosyncrasies derive from the particular ways that they are
assembled. Such character traits sometimes cross-pollinate and
relate to each other. For instance, we can track the similarities
or relationships in structural form and motifs with Loughcrew,
Fourknocks, Mound of the Hostages, Knowth and Lismullin,
Co. Meath (Cochrane 2012b; 2013; O’Sullivan 2013). Broader
relationships can be inferred for even further aeld and across
seas, such as in Pierowall, Orkney and Barclodiad y Gawres,
Anglesey (Burrow 2006; Sharples 1984).
Analogue real with a little distortion – rock art
One of the major characteristics of open-air rock art in
Britain and Ireland is the emphasis on abstract images,
including simple cup marks, cups with one or more rings,
cup marks with radiating lines (or cup and ring marks with
lines), spirals and shapes often termed ‘rosettes’. Such
images can appear to be relatively simple, although they can
be assembled into patterns of striking complexity (Cochrane
and Jones 2012) (Fig. 14.3).
The major concentrations of open-air rock art are in
the north of Ireland and in Britain from Derbyshire to
Perthshire, with particular focus in the north Yorkshire
Moors, Northumberland, Argyll and Galloway. In Ireland,
we nd accumulations in south-west Ireland in Co. Kerry,
with smaller groups of rock art in Co. Donegal, Co. Louth
and Co. Monaghan (Beckensall 1999; Bradley 1997, 70;
O’Connor 2006; Purcell 2002). Bradley’s (1997) analysis of
the environmental positioning of rock art panels in Britain
and Ireland suggests an important relationship between
rock art, route-ways and viewpoints; in some regions rock
art appears to be highlighting signicant routes, or dening
the edges of monument complexes.
The rock art of Britain and Ireland is extensive, but it
has yet to be fully understood (Sharpe 2012). In recent
years, this situation is being redressed, and patterns and
connections are beginning to emerge (e.g. Bradley and
Watson 2012; Fairén-Jiménez 2007; Jones 2012a; Sharpe
2012; Shee Twohig 2012). Datasets suggest that regional
groups present preferences with motifs, the surfaces and
textures that are enhanced, and in the environmental settings
selected (Sharpe 2012, 47).
Recent eldwork has begun to address some of these
concerns, with several excavation projects devoted to rock art.
These have included projects in Northumberland, Kilmartin
14. Art in the making: Neolithic societies in Britain, Ireland and Iberia 205
and Strath Tay. While the excavations at Hunterheugh crag,
Northumberland, established a sequence for rock art, with
Neolithic cup and ring motifs overlaid by Bronze Age cairns
(Waddington et al. 2005), excavations at Torbhlaren, Kilmartin,
Argyll, produced plentiful evidence for hammerstones
of quartz which could be linked to rock art production
activities. These were deposited in demonstrable middle and
late Neolithic contexts (Jones et al. 2011). Similar activities
were recognised at several sites on Ben Lawers, Strath Tay,
Scotland (Bradley et al. 2012). One of the fundamental points
that these recent projects have established is the Neolithic
date of rock art. Having established this, we are now in a
better position to compare rock art and passage tomb art with
other phenomena, such as the decorated artefacts of Neolithic
Britain and Ireland. We will look at these now.
Looking at the overlooked: decorated artefacts in
Britain and Ireland
One eye sees, the other feels
Paul Klee
Artefacts like the Folkton drums (Jones 2012b; Longworth
1999), or the Links of Noltland gure (Goring 2011), have
a focused gaze. These artefacts hint at the representation
of the human face and remind us of the African sculptures
presented by Chris Marker and Alain Resnais in their
lm Les statues meurent aussi (1953). Brown (2013, 276)
suggests that the sculptures in the lm are mute and require
modern montage to affect. We disagree, and rather than
seeing interaction with such objects as appropriation, we
suggest that working with the things builds relationships.
In fact, we argue that working and interaction with the
materials from which decorated materials are carved is key
to understanding them (Jones et al. 2015).
Understanding the working processes associated with
the decorated artefacts of Neolithic Britain and Ireland is
the subject of an on-going research project by two of the
authors (AMJ and MD-G). The Making a Mark project has
two major aims, both with the intention of looking again at
the overlooked. The rst is to reassess the contextual and
chronological status of decorated Neolithic artefacts. We
have always imagined a close stylistic relationship between
Grooved Ware, passage tomb art and certain special artefacts,
such as the Folkton drums (Bradley 1984; Crawford 1957;
Longworth 1999; Thomas 1990, 93–8) (Fig. 14.4), but are
these connections warranted? Might supercial stylistic
similarity belie greater chronological complexity?
Second, the project aims to apply digital recording
methods (in particular Reectance Transformation Imaging,
or RTI) and low-powered digital microscopy to understand
the processes of making. It is argued that understanding
sequences of working will help us understand connections
between communities of practice. The decorated artefacts
of Neolithic Britain and Ireland are distributed widely, with
notable concentrations including the carved stone balls and
other decorated artefacts (such as the Westray gurine and
Figure 14.4. Partially erased eyebrow motif on the face of Folkton drum 2 (Folkton, North Yorkshire, Britain). Left: line drawing
highlighting the outline of the motif. Right: highlighted in white rectangle, the motif viewed under Reectance Transformation Imaging
specular enhancement mode (image: Marta Díaz-Guardamino).
Andrew Meirion Jones, Andrew Cochrane and Marta Diaz-Guardamino
decorated Skaill knives) of Orkney and north-east Scotland
and the variety of carved and decorated artefacts – such as
carved phalli and mushroom-headed pins – from passage
tomb contexts in eastern Ireland and the decorated slate
plaques of the Isle of Man. The project examines artefacts
in each of these regions in addition to the chalk plaques and
other decorated chalk artefacts of southern England. In each
region the aim is to assess similarities and differences in
how materials are worked. The project examines decorated
artefacts from the earliest Neolithic contexts, such as int
mines, to middle–later Neolithic contexts, such as passage
tombs, henges and Orcadian and Manx settlements, with the
aim of understanding changing practices over time.
The project is still in its infancy, but we take one well-
studied example to illustrate the approach: the Folkton
drums, Yorkshire. The Folkton drums are some of the
most complex decorated artefacts from Neolithic Britain.
Excavated by Rev. William Greenwell in the mid-nineteenth
century (Greenwell 1890), the three drums are in fact carved
and decorated cylinders of chalk. The drums were deposited
alongside a child burial beneath a barrow in Folkton (Kinnes
and Longworth 1985). The drums were recorded using RTI
and produced some remarkable results (Jones et. al. 2015).
New motifs were revealed: several geometric scratch marks
on the base of drum 1, with parallels in Yorkshire rock art,
Orcadian passage grave art and Manx art. There was also
plentiful evidence for erased motifs. Most striking was
an erased ‘eyebrow’ motif on the face of drum 2. Erasure
was also evidently a technique used during decoration,
as ostensibly ‘blank’ spaces on the side panels of drum
1 exhibited evidence of having been cross-hatched with
incisions that were then erased. These results are signicant,
as processes of erasure, addition and superimposition are also
a feature of Irish passage tomb art (Cochrane 2009; Eogan
1997; Jones 2004; O’Sullivan 1996). Preliminary analysis
of a variety of chalk artefacts, including a selection from
the Windmill Hill causewayed enclosure, Wiltshire (Smith
1965; Whittle et. al. 1999), the colossal decorated chalk
block from Monkton Up Wimborne shaft, Dorset (Green
2000), and the antler macehead from Garboldisham, Norfolk
(Edwardson 1965), suggest that processes of erasure and
reworking may be more widespread, both geographically and
chronologically. The precise details of this are at the present
provisional, and it is likely more complexity and detail will
emerge as the project continues. From the earliest stages we
have been struck however by iconographic similarities with
artefacts from Iberia, and set out to examine these similarities
and possible evidence for parallel practices of reworking.
Standing stones, megalithic tombs and rock art in
Atlantic Iberia
Atlantic Iberia saw an unparalleled proliferation of stone
marking and stone shaping during the Neolithic and
Chalcolithic (c. 5800–2200 cal BC). Carefully sculpted
and decorated menhirs, megalithic tombs with engraved
and painted orthostats and the so-called Atlantic and
Schematic rock art traditions all populated the landscapes
of varying at times overlapping – regions from different
moments of the Neolithic, some of them throughout all its
sequence and beyond.
The works of Portuguese antiquarian Sebastião Estácio
da Veiga in the late nineteenth century (2005 [1886–1891])
inaugurated a long research tradition devoted to the study
of Neolithic art in Iberia. The literature dedicated to
Iberian Neolithic art is immense, and variable in scope and
perspective. General overviews include those on decorated
menhirs in south Portugal (D. Calado 2000; M. Calado 2002;
2004; Gomes 1994; 1997; Velinho 2005), Iberian megalithic
tomb art (Bueno Ramírez and Balbín Behrmann 1992; 2006;
Shee Twohig 1981), the earliest Atlantic rock art (Santos
Estévez 2007; Villoch Vázquez 1995), and Schematic rock
art (Acosta 1968; Alves 2002; Breuil 1933–1935; Baptista
1983; Collado Giraldo 2000; Gomes 1983; Gomez-Barrera
1992; 1993; Jorge 1986; Martínez García 2006; Santos
2009; for a recent overview on Iberian Neolithic rock art
traditions see Fairén-Jiménez 2015). Since the 1990s, there
has been a feverish publication activity, mainly in the form
of papers devoted to specic sites or topics, creating a highly
fragmented corpus of research (Bueno Ramírez et al. 2007;
2010; 2015; Martínez García and Hernández Pérez 2006;
García Arranz et al. 2012).
There has been a pervasive emphasis on the
representational dimensions of these visual expressions,
which are frequently regarded as static and finished
compositions. Recent research has concentrated on
recording and documentation, the formal and comparative
analysis of iconographies to infer chronologies and explore
symbolic meanings (e.g. identity) (García Arranz et al.
2012), the formal analysis of spatial/landscape settings
and their relationship to specic socioeconomic practices
and symbolic systems (Bueno Ramírez et al. 2004; 2008;
Santos Estévez 2007; Villoch Vázquez 1995). Some
researchers have deployed analytical techniques to narrow
down the chronology of their production or assess the
materials and substances involved in their making (Carrera
Ramírez and Fábregas Valcarce 2008; Cruz 1995; Gomes
et al. 2015; Ruiz et al. 2012).
The research developed in Iberia is vast but, in this
process, the art itself has been usually set aside as an
epiphenomenon of social life, a surrogate for ‘higher order’
symbolic frameworks, while the acts of art-making have
been largely ignored. As has been argued, art is uid and
performative (Cochrane and Jones 2012, 2–6), and it is
precisely through performance that materials play an active
role in or mediate social life (Jones 2012b, 9–14). Rather
than focusing on these expressions as inert and nished
compositions, Iberian research would benet from focusing
14. Art in the making: Neolithic societies in Britain, Ireland and Iberia 207
attention on their making, the sequences and processes
involved in their constitution in order to disclose a whole
new understanding of Iberian art as a uid and lively
phenomenon that is integral to social life. In the following
we will discuss some novel undertakings and case studies
that show the potential of such an approach.
Making and remaking menhirs: standing stones in
Atlantic Iberia
In the south of Portugal, in the west Algarve, there are dense
concentrations of menhirs whose manufacture and erection
seem to be linked to the so-called Neolithic transition
(Carvalho 2011, 244–5; Carvalho and Cardoso 2003, 41–2;
Gomes 1997). More than 400 menhirs are documented.
They were frequently shaped into phallic forms and around
half of them show surface decoration (i.e. serpentiforms and
enchained ellipses) in low relief and engraved (Fig. 14.5).
They are commonly found within ‘activity areas’ dened by
scatters of small int and quartzite tools and debris of their
manufacture, hammers, picks, polished stone implements,
some early Neolithic decorated pottery, replaces and, on
occasion, small stone pavements associated with these.
These sites also produce faunal remains – mainly molluscs
and few ovicaprines – as well as grinding stones, many
of them fragmented, whereas palaeobotanical evidence
for cultivation is still unknown. On these sites, menhirs,
replaces and the associated materials are spatially scattered
(e.g. 30 menhirs over 25ha in Caramujeira) and, apart
from small pavements associated with hearths, no clear-
cut evidence for stable dwelling structures (e.g. postholes,
storage pits) has been documented so far. Molluscs recovered
from a hearth located within an occupation layer (C2)
covering two menhir erection pits at the site of Padrão
provided two radiocarbon dates pointing to the earliest
stages of the Neolithic (5500–5400 cal BC) (Fig. 14.6 and
Table 14.1: Carvalho 2011, table 11.1; Gomes 1997, 176).
Traditionally, these sites have been interpreted as
settlements and their associated menhirs as symbols of
fertility (Gomes 1997; Gomes et al. 1978) or as ethnic
and boundary markers (Calado and Nocete 2010). The
interpretation of these sites in functional terms has restricted
our ability to understand the social signicance of this
menhir tradition. These menhirs were made of a limestone
that is native to the region but frequently enough is not
readily available in the sites where they were erected
(e.g. Gomes et al. 1978, 48). The search, selection, quarrying
and movement of these stones to their ‘primary’ resting
Figure 14.5. Detail of a decorated menhir, found grouped with
seven other menhirs near the village of Figueira (Budens, Vila
do Bispo, Portugal) and now exhibited in the Museum of Lagos
(image: Ricardo Soares/Museu de Lagos).
Figure 14.6. Menhir 1 of Padrão (Vila do Bispo, Portugal) (image:
Marta Díaz-Guardamino).
Andrew Meirion Jones, Andrew Cochrane and Marta Diaz-Guardamino
places was a complex – and necessarily collective – task
in which stones and groups of people worked in tandem.
Menhirs could have been roughed out where they were
quarried, although there is evidence to suggest that the bulk
of their making, or at least their nishing, took place at the
sites where they are found today.
These ‘activity areas’ offer evidence of a broad range
of activities indicative of menhir-making and suggest
their relative importance compared with other activities
documented at these sites. Small stone tools, hammers and
picks are numerous. These artefacts were probably used,
among other activities, to shape and decorate menhirs, and
the manufacture and retouch of stone tools, which are so
well represented at these sites (Calado 2000, 68–77, 80;
Gomes et al. 1978), could be considered as evidence for
stone working activities such as menhir-making. In the
absence of storage pits and remains of cultivated plants, the
presence of grinding stones is intriguing. In at least two of
the few well-documented contexts, grinding stones are found
as part of ‘votive’ caches, one deposited in the erection pit
of one menhir, the second next to another and covered by
an accumulation of stones (Gomes 1997, 185). Whereas the
rst cache evidences the signicance of practices involved
in menhir erection, the second exposes the relevance of
menhirs as foci of practices of deposition after they were
erected. Interestingly, some of the very few domestic faunal
remains documented at these sites are associated with a
menhir, a replace and a stone pavement in Padrão, where
molluscs were numerous (Fig. 14.6) (Gomes 1997, 176).
Far from being mere consumption waste, these faunal
remains seem to be associated with the on-going decoration
of menhirs and the deposition of offerings, since next to
another menhir of the same site similar faunal remains are
found in association with a limestone plaque with traces of
red pigment. Indeed, one menhir at the site of Caramujeria,
with residues of such pigments on its surface, reveals that
these menhirs were also painted (Gomes 1997, 163).
The wealth of performances involved in the making of
these menhirs, as well as the range of activities that took
place in their immediate surroundings, suggest these sites
remained signicant for some time. Such is their role in the
constitution of persistent places, as it is evidenced at the site
of Caramujeira, where there is an intensive phase of activity
during the late Neolithic, when some of its menhirs seem
to have been recarved (Gomes 1994, 330; 1997, 174–8;
Gomes et al. 1978).
Menhirs, either isolated or as part of enclosures, are
also known in other regions of Atlantic Iberia (Calado
2006; Díaz-Guardamino 2010, 79–94, g. 23; Gomes
1994). They frequently show phallic or anthropomorphic
shapes and surface decoration (i.e. lozenges, serpentiforms,
scutiforms, suns, etc.) (Díaz-Guardamino 2010, 79–94).
Enclosures belonging to a well-dened tradition located
in the Alentejo (south Portugal) include menhirs depicting
human bodies dressed with objects such as lunulae and
staffs (Calado 2002; 2004). The available evidence
suggests their erection and perhaps their decoration could
be attributed to the early Neolithic (c. second half of the
sixth millennium BC). This dating seems to be supported
by the radiocarbon dating of a charcoal sample retrieved
from the erection pit of the Meada standing stone – a 7m
tall phallic menhir located in the middle Tagus valley
(Castelo de Vide, Portalegre) – which also points to
the early Neolithic (c. 5000–4800 cal BC) (Table 14.1)
(Oliveira 2000, 147), although a possible ‘old wood’ effect
cannot be ruled out.
The manufacture of most of the remaining menhirs
known in these and other regions of Atlantic Iberia is
usually attributed to the middle or late Neolithic (Calado
2006; Gomes 1994). These chronological attributions have
a limited validity, since they are based on the comparative
study of the menhirs’ surface decoration. Nonetheless,
detailed iconographic analyses carried out on many of these
menhirs have exposed frequent episodes of carving and
recarving on many of them, sometimes possibly extending
through two or three millennia (Gomes 1994; 2007),
revealing the dynamic and open-ended nature of these large
stones (see below).
Table 14.1. Radiocarbon dates mentioned in the text. (*) Marine reservoir effect correction factor 380±30. Calibration
curve IntCal13.
Site/Monument Lab. Ref. BP 2σ (cal BC) Sample and context Reference
Padrão ICEN-645 6800±50
5509–5309 Mollusc (Cerastoderma
edule). Hearth.
Gomes 1997, 176; Carvalho 2011,
table 11.1
Padrão ICEN-873 6920±60
5632–5379 Mollusc (Ruditapes
decussatus). Hearth.
Gomes 1997, 176; Carvalho 2011,
table 11.1
Menhir de Meada UtC-4452 6022±40 5017–4801 Charcoal at base of menhir,
within the erection pit.
Oliveira 1995, 147
Monte dos
CAMS-77924 5330±80 4332–3991 Black pigment (charcoal) Carrera Ramírez and Fábregas
Valcarce 2008, table 6
14. Art in the making: Neolithic societies in Britain, Ireland and Iberia 209
Site/Monument Lab. Ref. BP 2σ (cal BC) Sample and context Reference
Monte dos
CAMS-77925 4960±60 3942–3642 Black pigment (charcoal) Carrera Ramírez and Fábregas
Valcarce 2008, table 6
Coto dos
CAMS-83631 5540±70 4523–4259 Black pigment (charcoal) Carrera Ramírez and Fábregas
Valcarce 2008, table 6
Coto dos
CAMS-83116 3830±60 2470–2064 Black pigment (charcoal) Carrera Ramírez and Fábregas
Valcarce 2008, table 6
Antelas OxA-5496 5330±60 4327–4000 Charcoal from layer in
corridor covered by slab.
Terminus post quem for
construction of monument.
Cruz 1995, table 4
Antelas OxA-5497 5295±60 4316–3982 Charcoal from layer in
corridor covered by slab.
Terminus post quem for
construction of monument.
Cruz 1995, table 4
Antelas OxA-5498 5070±65 3981–3708 Charcoal from layer in
corridor covered by slab.
Terminus post quem for
construction of monument.
Cruz 1995, table 4
Antelas OxA-5433 4655±60 3635–3139 Black pigment Cruz 1995, table 4
Dombate-Moment 1 CSIC-890 4930±70 3943–3538 Charcoal. Top of
Alonso Mathias and Bello Diéguez
1995; Bello Diéguez 1992/93; 1994
Dombate-Moment 1 CSIC-891 4910±60 3926–3535 Charcoal. Top of
Alonso Mathias and Bello Diéguez
1995; Bello Diéguez 1992/93; 1994
Dombate-Moment 2 CSIC-942 4480±25 3339–3035 Charcoal. Preparation and
use of access area (idols).
Alonso Mathias and Bello Diéguez
1995; Bello Diéguez 1992/93; 1994
Dombate-Moment 2 CSIC-964 4470±30 3339–3026 Charcoal. Preparation and
use of access area (idols).
Alonso Mathias and Bello Diéguez
1995; Bello Diéguez 1992/93; 1994
Dombate-Moment 2 CSIC-940 4450±25 3331–3017 Charcoal. Preparation and
use of access area (idols).
Alonso Mathias and Bello Diéguez
1995; Bello Diéguez 1992/93; 1994
Dombate-Moment 2 CSIC-893 4450±70 3344–2926 Charcoal. Preparation and
use of access area (idols).
Alonso Mathias and Bello Diéguez
1995; Bello Diéguez 1992/93; 1994
Dombate-Moment 2 CSIC-941 4430±25 3323–2928 Charcoal. Preparation and
use of access area (idols).
Alonso Mathias and Bello Diéguez
1995; Bello Diéguez 1992/93; 1994
Dombate-Moment 2 CSIC-939 4410±25 3262–2924 Charcoal. Preparation and
use of access area (idols).
Alonso Mathias and Bello Diéguez
1995; Bello Diéguez 1992/93; 1994
Dombate-Moment 2 CSIC-963 4380±35 3092–2911 Charcoal. Preparation and
use of access area (idols).
Alonso Mathias and Bello Diéguez
1995; Bello Diéguez 1992/93; 1994
Dombate-Moment 3 CSIC-892 4230±70 3011–2586 Charcoal. Underneath
closing slab (closing of
Alonso Mathias and Bello Diéguez
1995; Bello Diéguez 1992/93; 1994
Dombate-Moment 3 CSIC-948 4200±30 2894–2678 Charcoal. Access area,
underneath closing slab
(closing of monument)
Alonso Mathias and Bello Diéguez
1995; Bello Diéguez 1992/93; 1994
Dombate-Moment 4 CSIC-1066 4090±60 2872–2489 Charcoal. Late activity –
movement of soil.
Alonso Mathias and Bello Diéguez
1995; Bello Diéguez 1992/93; 1994
Dombate-Moment 4 CSIC-962 4020±30 2620–2471 Charcoal. Late activity –
movement of soil.
Alonso Mathias and Bello Diéguez
1995; Bello Diéguez 1992/93; 1994
Table 14.1. Radiocarbon dates mentioned in the text. (*) Marine reservoir effect correction factor 380±30. Calibration
curve IntCal13. (Continued)
Andrew Meirion Jones, Andrew Cochrane and Marta Diaz-Guardamino
Genealogies of imagery: megalithic tombs in
Atlantic Iberia
Making is an on-going process through which the mediatory
role of art is most clearly exposed. The re-use of older
decorated standing stones in the building of megalithic
tombs illustrates this point well. This phenomenon has been
attested in Iberia for some time. The well-known gallery
grave of Soto 1 (Trigueros, Huelva), southern Spain, was
studied by Hugo Obermaier (1924, 14), who noticed that at
least one of its numerous decorated orthostats was an older
statue-menhir re-used, upside down, in the fabric of the tomb
(orthostat I23: Fig. 14.7) (Shee Twohig 1981, 159–60, gs.
70–2). Research in southern Iberia has revealed that, far from
being marginal, the re-use of ancient decorated menhirs or
stelae seems to be a prevalent phenomenon (Bueno Ramírez
et al. 2007; 2015).
Recent archaeological excavations also produce a wealth
of ancient remains located beneath megalithic tombs, such
as pits from which standing stones re-used for tomb building
originally came. In Soto 1, for instance, recent excavations
have recovered evidence suggesting that the gallery grave
was built with decorated standing stones that came from a
dismantled stone enclosure on top of which the tomb and its
covering mound were constructed (Linares Catela et al. 2014;
for information on another interesting case, monument 7 of
the necropolis of Alcalar (Portimao, Faro, Portugal), see Díaz-
Guardamino 2004; Morán and Parreira 2004). Orthostasts
composing the gallery were subsequently re-shaped and
re-decorated with new engravings and painting, at times re-
elaborating on existing shapes and motifs (Balbín Behrmann
and Bueno Ramírez 1996b; Linares Catela et al. 2014, 28–33).
As has been shown for megalithic tomb art in Britain and
Ireland (see above), tomb building and decoration developed
in tandem and were inextricably linked. The gallery grave
of Alberite (Villamartín, Cádiz, Spain) exemplies this
well, since, apparently, orthostasts were engraved and
covered with red paint during the process of monument
construction. This was revealed through recent consolidation
works which involved the momentary displacement of
some of the orthostats, disclosing parts of stones that bore
painting and which had been buried and concealed since
the very construction of the monument (Balbín Behrmann
and Bueno Ramírez 1996a, 290–1). The detailed analysis of
direct radiocarbon dates of organic pigments in some burial
chambers from north-west Iberia have revealed, in some
instances, two or more superimposed episodes of painting
(i.e. Monte dos Marxos and Coto dos Mouros; Table 14.1
and Fig. 14.8 (Carrera Ramírez and Fábregas Valcarce
2008). Remarkably, in the dolmen of Monte dos Marxos
there are two superimposed layers of painting that possibly
took place centuries apart1 but which seem, nonetheless, to
replicate a similar design (Carrera Ramírez and Fábregas
Valcarce 2008, 83, g. 4).
Art making accompanied megalithic architectures
throughout their primary lives. This is found in the well-
known dolmen of Antelas (Oliveira de Frades, Viseu,
Portugal; Shee Twohig 1981, 150–1, gs 37–8), whose
construction has been dated to 4000–3700 cal BC, whereas
the elaborate geometric composition painted in black and red
on the backstone of the chamber could have been painted
some centuries later, as suggested by a radiocarbon date
obtained from a sample of black pigment2 (3635–3139
cal BC: Table 14.1 and Fig. 14.9) (Cruz 1995, 102, g. 4,
table iv). Other monumental architectures underwent
structural modications in later stages of their lives. In
the case of the dolmen of Dombate (reciente) Cabana, A
Coruña, Spain, a series of radiocarbon dates suggest that the
entrance was enlarged some centuries after the monument
was built (Table 14.1 and Fig. 14.9). This enlargement
was accompanied by the deposition of twenty small ‘idols’
positioned in a row marking the threshold into the monument
and, possibly, by the painting of the chamber and corridor,
although this has not been conrmed through radiocarbon
dating (Bello Diéguez 1994, 301–2; 1995).
Figure 14.7. Decorated orthostats in the gallery grave of Soto 1
(Trigueros, Huelva, Spain). On the right of this image is Orthostat
I23, a re-used statue-menhir showing, amongst others, a ‘T’-shaped
motif in low relief on its lower end, interpreted as an inverted
face (image: Miguel Ángel Blanco de la Rubia, courtesy of the
Department of Culture of the Andalusian Regional Government).
14. Art in the making: Neolithic societies in Britain, Ireland and Iberia 211
Art as long-term process: Atlantic and Schematic
rock art
Atlantic Iberia is home to countless post-Palaeolithic open-
air and cave rock art sites. The rock art found in this vast
region has been traditionally categorised into two ‘traditions’
or ‘styles’ with complementary and only slightly overlapping
distributions: Atlantic (or Galician) rock art, found in
the north-west, and Schematic rock art, distributed along
the mountainous systems that frame the Iberian Central
Plateau in the Atlantic basin, as well as across the Iberian
Mediterranean basin (for some general overviews see Alves
2002; Bradley 2009, 105–12; Bradley and Fábregas 1998;
Fairén-Jiménez 2015; Gomez-Barrera 1991).
Atlantic rock art seems to have been exclusively engraved.
Its dating has been a matter of some debate but recent
interpretations tend to view this as a long-lived, changing
tradition (Bradley and Fábregas 1998; Santos Estévez 2013).
The earliest Atlantic art, attributed to the Neolithic, would
consist entirely of geometric designs (cup marks, spirals and
concentric circles). During the Bronze Age, focus seems
to have shifted towards the representation of weapons and
‘idols’, whereas during the Iron Age, human gures and
animals, especially stags, became the central themes of
this tradition. The location of the art in the landscape and
its visibility also seem to have varied through time (Santos
Estévez 2010; 2013). During the Neolithic, Atlantic art was
typically engraved on at outcrops located around moist
basins and close to natural pathways, usually within the
settled or exploited land. In the Bronze Age the art was carved
on more conspicuous rock surfaces, on vertical or almost
vertical panels frequently accruing complex compositions,
and concentrated on the verge of the domesticated land.
Schematic art is extensive geographically and
chronologically and, as Bradley (2009, 105) and Fairén-
Jiménez (2015, 843) put it in two recent syntheses, it is very
difcult to characterise. It comprises a long-lasting tradition
that spans the Neolithic to Bronze Age in Atlantic Iberia.
It consists of stylised, mostly painted but also engraved,
motifs. Whilst varied, its repertoire seems to be centred
on the representation of (generally male) human gures,
animals (e.g. deer, goats), representations of the sun and
‘idols’, including oculi. The location of Schematic art is
certainly varied. It can be found on outcrops, rock shelters
and even caves. When located in the open air, panels can
be accessible, located near passage ways, or be isolated in
remote locations. In Atlantic Iberia the relationship between
imagery and landscape location shows dissimilar patterns
in different regions – for a comparison see the north of
Portugal (Bradley 2009, 106–12) and the middle Tagus
(e.g. Bueno Ramírez et al. 2004; Collado Giraldo et al.
2015). Nonetheless, there seems to be a common pattern of
association between more richly decorated panels or sites
and passage zones or liminal locations (e.g. Bradley 2009,
110–12; Collado Giraldo and García Arranz 2007, fn 23).
Open-air rock art (Atlantic or Schematic) may be more
or less visible and/or accessible but almost by denition is
exposed to be encountered, re-interpreted and re-formulated
over extensive periods of time (e.g. Alves Bacelar et al.
2013). Today, some open-air rock art panels are profusely
decorated with numerous motifs and superimpositions
resulting from punctuated but persistent re-congurations
that took place over centuries or even millennia. These panels
are paradigms of art as long-term process and, while being
in constant ux, they have acted as persistent nodes in ever-
changing landscapes. These ‘nodes’, known in Schematic
and Atlantic rock art alike, seem to reiterate the signicance
of passage and liminality as relevant dimensions of social
life throughout late prehistory. Good examples of this are
the Atlantic rock art site of Pedra das Ferraduras (Fentáns,
Pontevedra, Spain; Fig. 14.10) (Santos Estévez 2010; 2013)
and the Schematic art site of Cueva del Castillo (Monfragüe,
Cáceres, Spain; Fig. 14.11) (Collado Giraldo and García
Arranz 2007; Collado Giraldo et al. 2015, 75–109; Gomes
et al. 2015). Both sites relate to passage zones or liminal
spaces, and both show imagery with long-term temporalities.
The recent reappraisal of the Pedra das Ferraduras suggests
that this large outcrop was possibly engraved in three distinct
phases (Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age). Different faces
of the outcrop with varying orientations seem to have been
used in each period to carve new motifs, erase, and ‘re-use’
existing ones, reconguring the iconography of the whole
outcrop and reproducing norms that were broadly shared in
each period (Santos Estévez 2013, 232–3).
Figure 14.8. Tracing of one of the orthostats of the dolmen of Monte
dos Marxos (Rodeiro, Pontevedra, Spain). To the right is the oldest
layer, to the left the most recent. The dolmen was destroyed in AD
2000 and, whilst the slab was originally published with a different
orientation (Carrera and Fábregas 2008), a new examination by
F. Carrera suggests that the slab was positioned as it is shown
in this image (image: Fernando Carrera and Ramón Fábregas).
Andrew Meirion Jones, Andrew Cochrane and Marta Diaz-Guardamino
Figure 14.9. Multiple plot of the calibrated probability distributions for the radiocarbon measurements mentioned in the text. Generated
using OxCal v4.2.4.
Cueva del Castillo is a deep rock shelter that is visible
from afar and is located close to a relevant passage zone in
the Monfragüe National Park, where more than one hundred
post-Palaeolithic rock art sites have been located to date.
It stands out for the preservation of its art, the variability
and wealth of motifs distributed among the various panels
and the numerous superimpositions among them (Collado
Giraldo and García Arranz 2007). Recent reappraisal of
its paintings by means of image enhancement techniques
(DStretch) has revealed complex patterns of superimposition
14. Art in the making: Neolithic societies in Britain, Ireland and Iberia 213
(Collado Giraldo et al. 2015); images were added and
partially superimposed over existing ones, creating new
compositions. In this process, inorganic pigments of
different tonalities were applied deploying different tools
(Gomes et al. 2015).
One area of panel 4 shows up to four superimpositions
(Fig. 14.11). Two very stylised human gures painted with
light orange pigments applied with ngers seem to belong
to the earliest phase, attributed to the Neolithic. Over one
of these gures a pair of oculi, possibly associated with
three anthropomorphic gures situated below them, are
painted with ner traces and darker red pigment. Over one
of these human gures there is one more human-like gure,
depicted with several arms, outlined with similar traces and
colour as the previous. Finally, a large zoomorphic gure,
possibly a bovid, is painted over the previous gure and one
of the human gures attributed to the earliest phase. The
radiometric dating of Schematic art in Iberia is still limited
in terms of resolution (Ruiz et al. 2012). Therefore, its dating
still relies largely upon formal parallels with decorated
pottery and portable art associated with radiocarbon dates
(Ruiz et al. 2012, table 3; Torregrosa Giménez and Galiana
Botella 2001). This kind of information serves to attribute
the oculi from panel 4 in Cueva del Castillo to the Copper
Age, whereas the large bovid has been attributed to the
Bronze Age (Collado Giraldo et al. 2015, 172, 8).
Unnished business? Decorated artefacts in
Atlantic Iberia
Iberia is probably the region in western Europe with
the richest and most varied collection of Neolithic and
Chalcolithic portable art (Almagro Gorbea 1973). The
diversity of materials is immense: (red) clay, a broad
variety of rocks (i.e. schist, limestone, marble, variscite),
bone (animal and human – Delibes de Castro and Paz
Fernández 2000), gold (Hernando 1983; Murillo Barroso
et al. 2015) and even ivory (from African and Asiatic
elephant, mammoth and sperm whale; García Sanjuán
et al. 2013; Valera et al. 2015). These can be artefacts of
known functionality, such as containers, personal ornaments
(pins, beads), combs, crooks and parts of weapons (hilt and
sheath), or gurines and ‘idols’, these possibly constituting
one of the most intriguing and varied samples of imagery
known in Neolithic western Europe. Themes vary largely
between recognisable forms (animal, human and human-like
gures, oculi – frequently deployed to depict eyes of human
gures or ‘idols’, phalli, suns) and more abstract designs
(geometric designs, including body decoration on human
representations, plaques, lobulated gures, etc.). Notably,
these can be represented two- and three-dimensionally
through techniques such as carving or moulding. Pigments
and other substances (i.e. bone or calcium carbonate) have
been detected on some artefacts, indicating the possible
Figure 14.10. View of a at area of the Pedra das Ferraduras
(Fentáns, Pontevedra, Spain), showing a series of engravings
attributed to the Neolithic (image: Manuel Santos Estévez).
broad use of these additive techniques to decorate these
artefacts (i.e. Thomas 2011).
Traditionally, these artefacts have been categorised into
‘functional’ types (i.e. vases, idols, etc.) and ‘morphological’
subtypes (i.e. anthropomorphic idols, plaque idols, betil
idols, etc.). They are found in a diversity of contexts (i.e.
domestic, funerary, votive, etc.) and while some types seem
to be mainly associated with mortuary spaces (i.e. hare
gurines, phalli, plaques) (Fig. 14.12), others are frequently
found across different contexts (i.e. ‘symbolic’ pottery,
cylinder idols). Decorated artefacts are more densely
distributed across southern Iberia but, still, a signicant
number of cases are also found in the north (see for example
Bueno Ramírez et al. 2003; Fábregas Valcarce 1993; Mujika
Alustiza 1998).
Research on decorated artefacts has been largely focused
on the search for symbolic meanings. In this context,
the examination of contextual associations and, more
frequently, formal analogies and patterns across object
categories, including rock art, have been seminal (Acosta
1967; Cacho et al. 2010). Specic representations and
decorative patterns have been interpreted, for example,
as symbols of collective identities (local or regional:
Bueno Ramírez 1992; Hurtado Pérez 2010), memories
(genealogical afliation: Lillios 2008), or as religious
deities (‘Mother Goddess’: Gonçalves 2008). Recently,
work has been done on material characterisation and
provenancing, as well as on the manufacture of these
objects, producing results with great potential to develop a
new understanding in social terms (see for example García
Sanjuán et al. 2013; Nocete et al. 2013; Murillo Barroso
et al. 2015; Valera et al. 2015 and papers in Cacho et al.
2010). Yet, images and representations are still broadly held
as materialisations of existing templates.
Andrew Meirion Jones, Andrew Cochrane and Marta Diaz-Guardamino
Attempts to decode symbolic meanings have masked
the mediatory role of portable art in social life. Shifting
the focusing into process, on the other hand, has the
potential to disclose the emergent qualities and active role
of decorated artefacts in cultural and social production.
Iberian engraved stone plaques, also known as ‘plaque
idols’ or ‘slate plaques’, are a good example (Fig. 14.12).
They have attracted the attention of scholars since the
nineteenth century. In a recent comprehensive work on
the subject, Lillios estimated that there are more than
2000, perhaps close to 4000, decorated plaques held in
museum collections in Iberia (Lillios 2008, 17). While
they share a common scheme they are made of stone,
usually of trapezoidal shape, measure between 8–10 and
20–25cm long and around 10cm wide and bear geometric
decoration – there is considerable variation in the geometric
patterns deployed to decorate them (Lillios 2008, chapter
2). They are generally found in collective funerary contexts
which are frequently disturbed, often in regions were acidic
soils prevent the preservation of osteological remains.
Therefore, their association with specic individuals is
difcult to establish, although some evidence points in that
direction (Gonçalves 2003b, 222).
Workshops for manufacturing plaques have been
known for some time (Calado 2006, 80–1, gs 22–7;
Gonçalves 1983–84), but the very process of their
manufacture has only been explored more recently (i.e.
Gonçalves 2003b, 264–5; 2004, 236–54; Gonçalves
et al. 2005; Lillios 2008, 82–103). For more than two
decades, Gonçalves has maintained that the decorated
plaques are expressions of a common religious framework
shared among the populations of the Iberian south-
west. Decorated plaques, he argues, were standardised
representations of the Neolithic ‘Mother Goddess’,
a hypothesis that has been refuted by others (Bueno
Ramírez 1992; Lillios 2008). According to Gonçalves,
plaques were manufactured following shared norms – in
which symmetry was key – in a variety of production
centres and circulated through exchange (Gonçalves 1989;
2008). In a paper devoted to rare, but relevant, examples
showing asymmetric or ‘unnished’ decoration found in
funerary contexts (Gonçalves 2003a), he rejects the idea
of this asymmetry as resulting from artistic production.
Instead, he attributes it to the ‘degeneration’ of the
symbolic framework that sustained, in his interpretation,
the production of these images. In this view, plaques
with asymmetric decoration, sometimes with a rather
unnished appearance, are still representing a ‘degenerate’
version of a symbolic template.
In a recent reassessment of engraved stone plaques
(Lillios 2008; see also 2003; 2004), Lillios proposes that
the largest group, the so-called ‘Classic’ type, may have
been deployed to codify information about the genealogical
afliation of deceased elite individuals. Plaque manufacture
is considered in the light of inscriptive mnemonic practices,
since genealogical information would be recorded through
the carving of a specic number of horizontal registers. A
use-wear experiment suggested that plaques were probably
created to be deposited with the deceased after they were
manufactured (Lillios 2008, 109). Lillios regards the
asymmetric decoration on some plaques as intentional
and meaningful but provides no explanation in the light
of the genealogical model (Lillios 2008, 42). Cases with
‘unnished’ or chaotic decoration are interpreted as practice
plaques for apprentices, whereas she does not provide a
specic interpretation for the re-use of plaques (Lillios
2008, 72–4, 110). Gonçalves, who has treated the re-use
of plaques more extensively, suggests two possibilities:
that they were re-used to save work, or that they were
re-interpreted in the context of a new religious situation
(Gonçalves et al. 2003).
‘Unnished’, chaotic, asymmetric or re-used plaques
constitute a small sample in the large population of known
plaques, but they are relevant since they expose the
limitations of the meaning-centred hypotheses proposed
until now, and highlight the signicance of performances,
marks and materials involved in their making. The
hypothesis of the deposition of ‘practice plaques’ in rather
formalised funerary contexts does not t well within the
Figure 14.11. Detail of panel 4 in the Cueva del Castillo (Monfragüe,
Cáceres, Spain). Photograph treated with DStretch. The tracing
shows a complex series of superimposed motifs (from Collado
et al. 2015, gs 72–3).
14. Art in the making: Neolithic societies in Britain, Ireland and Iberia 215
Figure 14.12. Grave goods documented in the passage grave of Anta Grande da Ordem (Portalegre, Alentejo, Portugal), including various
decorated stone plaques (image: Leisner and Leisner 1959, plate 14).
genealogical model, while the underlying pattern structuring
the morphology of the decoration of anomalous cases
proposed by Gonçalves is difcult to visualise. Rather,
the creation of a plaque itself may have been invested
with special signicance – the outcomes, regardless of
their formal attachment to orthodoxy, were relevant to
be deposited in funerary deposits, as it is attested in Anta
Grande da Ordem (Alentejo, Portugal; Fig. 14.12). This
is all the more signicant when we consider that these
anomalous cases are found in areas where slate is abundant
Andrew Meirion Jones, Andrew Cochrane and Marta Diaz-Guardamino
and available to manufacture new ‘normalised’ plaques in
case the available ones were ‘defective’, and they could be
mended since decorating a plaque after it has been shaped
would have been relatively easy (Lillios 2008, 86–96). As
the re-used plaques reveal, sometimes an old plaque was
preferred to creating a new plaque – most probably on the
same site maybe for its aesthetic qualities or because it
was already fragmented.
Plaque-making may have been an important mnemonic
activity in itself, as put forward by Lillios (2008, 174–5),
but the previous observations encourage us to go even
further and suggest that these activities may have held at
least as much signicance as the symbolic meanings once
attached to the designs produced by them, inviting us to
place our focus on materials and performance in future
Marks and histories: comparisons and discussions
In both regions discussed – Britain and Ireland and
Iberia – there is extensive evidence for reworking and re-
use in Neolithic art. In the case of the decorated Neolithic
artefacts of Britain we now have evidence for erasure, re-
marking and superimposition in a host of different media
and artefact types. In the case of Irish passage tombs there
is evidence for erasure and superimposition, and for a
close relationship between carving and building. This is
paralleled by the evidence for extensive reworking, for the
re-use of building materials, and for re-painting in Iberian
passage tombs (sometimes after the lapse of considerable
timespans) and in the reworking of the menhirs of the
Algarve. It is also the case for the decorated artefacts of
Neolithic and Chalcolithic Iberia, particularly the schist
These examples highlight pervasive practices occurring
across the entire Neolithic (from the earliest Neolithic to
the Chalcolithic) and over a considerable geographic extent
(from northern Scotland to southern Spain). We believe that
a consideration of processes of making, and the practices
of erasure, superimposition and reworking is essential to a
holistic understanding of Neolithic art. We can no longer
rely on purely iconographic or stylistic analyses alone;
iconographic analyses must be combined with a proper study
of processes of making if we are to realise the full potential
of this material. Formal and stylistic analyses only offer a
partial picture of Neolithic visual activities. To provide a
rounded picture of Neolithic art we need to also consider
practices of making.
Our paper has highlighted the importance of understanding
processes of making, and the changing practices associated
with Neolithic art. This is ironic as the comprehension of
long sequences of change has been a leitmotif of Alasdair’s
archaeological career. It is doubtful that analysis of Neolithic
art will ever be linked with detailed Bayesian chronologies,
due to the problems of context associated with this material.
Nevertheless, the next step in our analyses must emulate
Alasdair’s recent work to understand these changing
practices of visualisation over long sequences of time.
MD-G would like to thank Dirce Marzoli, Director of
the German Archaeological Institute in Madrid, and the
staff of the Institute’s library for their generous support
while conducting research for this chapter in Madrid
and for granting permission to reproduce a plate from
G. and V. Leisners work. She would also like to thank
Fernando Carrera, Hipólito Collado Giraldo, Ramón
Fábregas, Leonardo García Sanjuán, Víctor S. Gonçalves,
Elena Morán, Manuel Santos Estévez, Ricardo Soares for
providing and/or granting permission to reproduce their
images. AMJ, AC and MD-G would like to thank the editors
for their supreme patience in the various delays involved
in writing this paper.
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Full-text available
En este artículo se publican 11 dataciones AMS obtenidas a partir de muestras de pintura conservada en losas de monumentos megalíticos del Noroeste de la Península Ibérica. Se presentan brevemente las cuestiones metodológicas y los resultados radiocarbónicos, que vienen a consolidar ideas emergentes en la literatura científica. Entre otras cuestiones, se reafirma la coincidencia temporal de grandes monumentos en la primera mitad del 4º milenio BC. Asimismo parece fortalecerse la idea de la larga utilización de los sepulcros, evidenciada ahora en varios episodios de decoración pictórica