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Making megaliths: shifting and unstable stones in the Neolithic of the Avebury landscape

Making megaliths: shifting and unstable stones in the Neolithic of the Avebury landscape
Making megaliths: shifting and unstable stones in the Neolithic of the Avebury landscape
This paper focuses upon the web of practices and transformations bound up in the extraction and movement of megaliths during the Neolithic of southern Britain. The focus is on the Avebury landscape of Wiltshire, where over 700 individual megaliths were employed in the construction of ceremonial and funerary monuments. Locally-sourced, little consideration has been given to the process of acquisition and movement of sarsen stones that make up key monuments such as the Avebury henge and its avenues; attention instead focussing on the middle-distance transportation of sarsen out of this region to Stonehenge. Though stone movements were local, we argue they were far from lacking in significance, as indicated by the subsequent monumentalization of at least two locations from which they were likely acquired. We argue that since such stones embodied place(s);their removal, movement and resetting represented a remarkably dynamic and potentially disruptive reconfiguration of the world as it was known. Megaliths were never inert or stable matter, and we need to embrace this in our interpretative accounts if we are to understand the very different types of monument that emerged in prehistory as a result
0959-7743
537-59
Gillings, Mark
e8c782bf-2ef9-4ffc-bc20-bf6e6d2f3bcd
Pollard, Joshua
5080faff-bc2c-4d27-b702-e40a5eb40761
Gillings, Mark
e8c782bf-2ef9-4ffc-bc20-bf6e6d2f3bcd
Pollard, Joshua
5080faff-bc2c-4d27-b702-e40a5eb40761

Gillings, Mark and Pollard, Joshua (2016) Making megaliths: shifting and unstable stones in the Neolithic of the Avebury landscape. Cambridge Archaeological Journal, 26 (4), 537-59. (doi:10.1017/S0959774316000330).

Record type: Article

Abstract

This paper focuses upon the web of practices and transformations bound up in the extraction and movement of megaliths during the Neolithic of southern Britain. The focus is on the Avebury landscape of Wiltshire, where over 700 individual megaliths were employed in the construction of ceremonial and funerary monuments. Locally-sourced, little consideration has been given to the process of acquisition and movement of sarsen stones that make up key monuments such as the Avebury henge and its avenues; attention instead focussing on the middle-distance transportation of sarsen out of this region to Stonehenge. Though stone movements were local, we argue they were far from lacking in significance, as indicated by the subsequent monumentalization of at least two locations from which they were likely acquired. We argue that since such stones embodied place(s);their removal, movement and resetting represented a remarkably dynamic and potentially disruptive reconfiguration of the world as it was known. Megaliths were never inert or stable matter, and we need to embrace this in our interpretative accounts if we are to understand the very different types of monument that emerged in prehistory as a result

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Gillings & Pollard CAJ final.pdf - Accepted Manuscript
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Accepted/In Press date: 14 March 2016
e-pub ahead of print date: 24 May 2016
Published date: November 2016
Organisations: Archaeology

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 392645
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/392645
ISSN: 0959-7743
PURE UUID: 8d077447-6bb8-4679-9cf9-c335e52c2c50
ORCID for Joshua Pollard: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-8429-2009

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 15 Apr 2016 08:20
Last modified: 28 Aug 2019 00:32

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Contributors

Author: Mark Gillings
Author: Joshua Pollard ORCID iD

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