What happened before the Middle Bronze Age land divisions and roundhouses? Prehistoric soil erosion and landscape change on Dartmoor, UK

Carey, Chris, Hunnisett, Kim, Macphail, Richard, Bray, Lee, Toms, Phillip ORCID: 0000-0003-2149-046X, Wood, Jaime ORCID: 0000-0003-0923-5511 and Crabb, Andy (2024) What happened before the Middle Bronze Age land divisions and roundhouses? Prehistoric soil erosion and landscape change on Dartmoor, UK. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 56. Art 104506. doi:10.1016/j.jasrep.2024.104506

14045 Carey, Hunnisett, Macphail, Bray, Toms (2024) What happened before the Middle Bronze Age land divisions and roundhouses - prehistoric soil erosion and landscape change on Dartmoore, UK.pdf - Published Version
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An extraordinary transformation in the character of human-landscape interaction occurred in the mid-second millennium BC across Britain and northern Europe. The landscapes of the Early Bronze Age (c. 2000–1600 BCE) dominated by funerary and ceremonial monuments change in the Middle Bronze Age (c. 1600–1000 BCE), into the landscapes of the living and domestic, characterised by land divisions and roundhouses. The prehistoric field systems (reaves) of Dartmoor are arguably the best-preserved example of this change, containing extensive surviving land divisions, with associated enclosures and numerous roundhouses. Surprisingly, despite the fame of these archaeological remains, there has been little recent investigation of these landscapes; basic questions remain unanswered, such as their chronology and the relationship between their construction and past environments. This contribution details the analysis of sediment sequences that predate the construction of a roundhouse and reave system at Holwell, Dartmoor. The results demonstrate there was localised, anthropogenically driven, soil erosion that predated both the roundhouse and the reaves, which continued after their construction. At this locality, rather than the construction of the ‘domestic landscapes’ of the Middle Bronze Age land divisions signifying an abrupt departure from the preceding landscape use, the analyses define some continuity in the use of this locale before and after reave construction. These data, therefore, suggest that interpretations of Middle Bronze Age land division are not related to changes in the use of landscapes, such as changes in agricultural practices and intensification, but instead can be considered as a formalisation of conceptual relationships between past societies and the landscapes they inhabited. As such, these Middle Bronze Age land divisions represent monumental agency, rather than wholesale changes in land use practices.

Item Type: Article
Article Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Middle Bronze Age; Soil erosion; Thin section; Sediment analysis; Landscape change
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human geography. Human ecology. Anthropogeography
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Education and Science
Research Priority Areas: Place, Environment and Community
Depositing User: Anna Kerr
Date Deposited: 02 May 2024 09:12
Last Modified: 13 May 2024 15:30
URI: https://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/14045

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