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Field Archaeologist in Residence_Second Lecture

David Roberts, (Historic England) - Neolithic pits in Wiltshire; deposition and landscape practices beyond monuments
When Mar 14, 2017
from 05:00 PM to 06:00 PM
Where McDonald Institute Seminar Room, Courtyard Building, Downing Street
Contact Name
Attendees All welcome
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Field Archaeologist in Residence Wesex imageWessex, with Wiltshire at its heart, has been central to British prehistoric scholarship since the time of the earliest antiquarians. Like many scholars since, antiquarians were drawn to Wiltshire by the imposing upstanding monuments of Stonehenge, Durrington Walls, Avebury and Silbury Hill. In modern narratives of the Neolithic in southern Britain studies of Wiltshire’s monuments remain popular and influential. Unlike elsewhere in Britain, however, results from commercial archaeological work on Neolithic sites in Wiltshire have not been synthesised. In particular, non-monumental sites have received little attention. Pits, the most commonly found Neolithic features, have been the subject of detailed, large scale research in East Anglia (Garrow 2006), the Thames Valley (Morigi et al 2011) and elsewhere (Edwards 2009, Carver 2011) but not in the supposed heartland of Neolithic studies. This study synthesises data from every Neolithic pit in Wiltshire from non-monumental sites, revealing a complex pattern of deposition and landscape use. A deconstruction of the depositional and landscape practices behind five recently excavated pits close to Stonehenge provides a detailed case study contextualised within the wider patterns identified, illuminating life on the edge of Salisbury Plain just before the construction of Britain’s most iconic prehistoric monument.



David Roberts completed his PhD on Roman interactions with the natural world in Wessex and Provenc​e at the University of York in 2015. Since 2013 David has worked as an archaeologist for English Heritage / Historic England, managing research projects and excavations, predominantly in Wiltshire on prehistoric and Roman sites and landscapes. In 2015-2016 he directed a series of excavations in the Stonehenge WHS as part of HE's Stonehenge Southern WHS project, revealing several nationally significant sites including a rediscovered long barrow, a group of Middle Neolithic pits, and human remains in Bronze Age land divisions, including the earliest recorded field systems in the WHS. In winter 2016 David was Field Archaeologist in Residence at the McDonald Institute  and spent ten weeks producing a corpus of Neolithic pits in W​iltshire and thinking about this data.

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