Hostname: page-component-8448b6f56d-tj2md Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-04-20T17:33:45.477Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Building for the Dead: Events, Processes and Changing Worldviews from the Thirty-eighth to the Thirty-fourth Centuries cal. bc in Southern Britain

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 January 2007

Alasdair Whittle
Cardiff School of History and Archaeology, Cardiff University, Humanities Building, Colum Drive, Cardiff, CF10 3EU, Wales.
Alistair Barclay
Wessex Archaeology, Portway House, Old Sarum Park, Salisbury, SP4 6EB, UK.
Alex Bayliss
English Heritage, 1, Waterhouse Square, 138–142 Holborn, London, EC1N 2ST, UK.
Lesley McFadyen
School of Archaeology and Ancient History, University of Leicester, University Road, Leicester, LE1 7RH, UK.
Rick Schulting
Institute of Archaeology, University of Oxford, 36, Beaumont Street, Oxford, OX1 2PG, UK.
Michael Wysocki
Centre for Forensic Science, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, PR1 2HE, UK.


Our final paper in this series reasserts the importance of sequence. Stressing that long barrows, long cairns and associated structures do not appear to have begun before the thirty-eighth century cal. bc in southern Britain, we give estimates for the relative order of construction and use of the five monuments analysed in this programme. The active histories of monuments appear often to be short, and the numbers in use at any one time may have been relatively low; we discuss time in terms of generations and individual lifespans. The dominant mortuary rite may have been the deposition of articulated remains (though there is much diversity); older or ancestral remains are rarely documented, though reference may have been made to ancestors in other ways, not least through architectural style and notions of the past. We relate these results not only to trajectories of monument development, but also to two models of development in the first centuries of the southern British Neolithic as a whole. In the first, monuments emerge as symptomatic of preeminent groups; in the second model, monuments are put in a more gradualist and episodic timescale and related to changing kinds of self-consciousness (involving senses of self, relations with animals and nature, perceptions of the body, awareness of mortality and attitudes to the past). Both more distant and more recent and familiar possible sources of inspiration for monumentalization are considered, and the diversity of situations in which mounds were constructed is stressed. More detailed Neolithic histories can now begin to be written.

Research Article
2007 The McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)