Skip to main content

Materiality and memory: an archaeological perspective on the popular adoption of linear time in Britain

  • Harold Mytum (a1)

Archaeologists increasingly realise that prehistoric peoples had their own ideas about time. The concept of linear, measurable time emerged in learned Europe largely in the first millennium. Here the author tracks how, with the broadening of literacy in sixteenth-century Britain, dates start appearing on numerous items of popular culture. The dated objects in turn feed back into the way that people of all social levels began to see themselves and their place in history.

Hide All
Allason-Jones L. 1988. The Inscriptions on Donyatt Pottery, in Coleman-Smith R. & Pearson T. (eds.) Excavations in the Donyatt Potteries: 391–86. Chichester: Phillimore.
Anderson B. 1991. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origins and Spread of Nationalism. 2nd edition. London: Verso.
Anon . 1991. The Welsh Dresser and associated cupboards. Cardiff: University of Wales Press & National Museum of Wales.
Bailey G.N. 1987. Breaking the time barrier. Archaeological Review from Cambridge 6: 520.
Banks F. 1997. Wine Drinking in Oxford 1640-1850 (British Archaeological Reports British Series 257). Oxford: British Archaeological Reports.
Boivin N. 2004. Mind over matter? Collapsing the mind-matter dichotomy in material culture studies, in DeMarrais E., Gosden C. & Renfrew C. (eds.) Rethinking materiality: the engagement of mind with the material world: 6372. Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research.
Bradley R. 2002. The Past in Prehistoric Societies. London: Routledge.
Breisach E. 1994. Historiography. Ancient, Medieval & Modern. 2nd edition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Burke P. 1969. The Renaissance Sense of the Past. London: Edward Arnold.
Christie N. 2004. On bells and bell towers: origins and evolutions in Italy and Britain AD 700 to 1200. Church Archaeology 5 & 6: 1330.
Cressy D. 1989. Bonfires and Bells. National Memory and the Protestant Calendar in Elizabethan and Stuart England. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson.
DeMarrais E., Castillo L. & Earle T.. 1996. Ideology, materialization, and power strategies. Current Anthropology 37: 1531.
Dohrn-van Rossum G. 1992. History of the Hour. Clocks and Modern Temporal Orders. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Finch J. 2000. Church Monuments in Norfolk before 1850 (British Archaeological Reports British Series 317). Oxford: Archaeopress.
Frith B. (ed.) 1992. Ralph Bigland, Historical, Monumental and Genealogical Collections Relative to the County of Gloucester. Part 3: Naunton - Twining (Gloucestershire Record Series 5). Bristol: Bristol & Gloucestershire Archaeological Society.
Glendinning A. n.d. The Jersey Datestones Register. Website:
Gosden C. 1994. Time and Social Being. London: Routledge.
Hughes G.B. 1960. English and Scottish Earthenware 1660-1860. London: Abbey Fine Arts.
Karlsson H. (ed.) 2001. It's About Time. The Concept of Time in Archaeology. Lindome: Bricoleur Press.
Knappett C. 2004. The affordances of things: a post-Gibsonian perspective on the relationality of mind and matter, in DeMarrais E., Gosden C. & Renfrew C. (eds.) Rethinking materiality: the engagement of mind with the material world: 4352. Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research.
Leone M.P. & Shackel P.A.. 1987. Forks, clocks and power, in Ingersoll D.W. Jr & Bronitsky G. (eds.) Mirror and Metaphor: 4461. Lanham (MD): University Press of America.
Levy F.J. 1967. Tudor Historical Thought. San Marin: Huntington Library.
Llewellyn N. 2000. Funeral Monuments in Post-Reformation England. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Lucas G. 2005. The Archaeology of Time. London: Routledge.
McCracken G.D. 1988. Culture and Consumption: new approaches to the symbolic character of consumer goods and activities. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
McKisack M. 1971. Medieval History in the Tudor Age. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Murray T. (ed.) 1999. Time and Archaeology. London: Routledge.
Mytum H. 2004. Mortuary Monuments and Burial Grounds of the Historic Period. New York: Kluwer Academic.
Mytum H. & Chapman K.. 2006. The origin of the graveyard headstone: some 17th-century examples in Bedfordshire. Church Archaeology 7– 9: 6778.
North T. 1878. The Church Bells of Northamptonshire. Leicester: Samuel Clarke.
Panofsky E. 1960. Renaissance and Renascences in Western Art (Gottesman lectures, Uppsala University 7, Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis 10). Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell.
Roe F. 1929. Ancient Church Chests and Chairs in the Home Counties round Greater London. London: Batsford.
Smith P. 1988. Houses of the Welsh Countryside. London: HMSO.
Stevens J. 1977. Old Jersey Houses. Chichester: Phillimore.
Thomas J. 1996. Time, Culture and Identity. An Interpretive Archaeology. London: Routledge.
Thompson E.P. 1967. Time, Work-Discipline, and Industrial Capitalism. Past and Present 38: 5697.
Van Dyke R. & Alcock S.E. (eds.). 2003. Archaeologies of Memory. Oxford: Blackwell.
Walters H.B. 1912. Church Bells of England. London: Oxford University Press.
Weaver L. 1909. English Leadwork. Its Art & History. London: Batsford.
Woolard K. 2004. Is the Past a Foreign Country? Time, Language Origins, and the Nation in Early Modern Spain. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 14.1: 5780.
Wright L.B. 1935. Middle-Class Culture in Elizabethan England. Ithaca (NY): Cornell University Press.
Wrightson K. 2000. Earthly Necessities. Economic Lives in Early Modern Britain. NewHaven: Yale University Press.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

  • ISSN: 0003-598X
  • EISSN: 1745-1744
  • URL: /core/journals/antiquity
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 18 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 141 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 18th December 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.