(ARCH027) Introduction to British Prehistory: Earlier Period – Post-Glacial to the Neolithic, 16000BC-2500BC



Course start date: Monday 23rd September 2024
Course end date: Friday 29th November 2024
Early Bird Price: £135 BOOK NOW

Tutor: Dr Tina Tuohy
Course Code: ARCH027
Level: Non-accredited, non-credit bearing
Assessments/Exams: None. Throughout the course you will be given ideas and questions to respond to in the online discussion area. Participation in online discussion is encouraged, but not compulsory.
Duration: 10 weeks
Estimated Student Study Time: 2 – 5 hours per week are recommended, but time spent is flexible and at your discretion.
Price: £150.00
Pre-Requisite Course(s): None
Delivery: Online Distance Learning
Late Entrants: If this course is not full by the start date then late entrants will be accepted for up to two weeks after the start of the course. As a late entrant you can choose to catch up on the material you have missed or you can skip the missed weeks and concentrate on the material at the point where you join the course, but unfortunately we cannot offer fee reductions or course extensions for late entrants.
Recommended Reading**: A list of suggested books and websites is provided within the course
Required Reading**: None

**Please note: All courses are subject to sufficient numbers of students registering before they are confirmed as running. Therefore, after booking your place you are advised not to purchase any texts until you have received confirmation that the course is running.

This course was previously taught by Dr Tina Tuohy when it was offered by the University of Exeter*. If you studied it with the University of Exeter* you might not wish to study it again with Learn for Pleasure as although we have revised and updated our courses where necessary, it will likely be substantively the same.

Syllabus Plan

Week 01: Introduction to Prehistory
Week 02: Mesolithic Hunter Gatherers
Week 03: Farming and Settlements
Week 04: Material Culture: Flint, Stone and Pottery
Week 05: Causewayed Enclosures
Week 06: Burial Monuments
Week 07: Cursus and Bank Barrows
Week 08: Stone and Timber Circles
Week 09: Henges
Week 10: Ritual Landscapes

Course Content in Depth

Week 01: Introduction to Archaeology

How we find things. Prehistory the period studied and differences in discerning data and interpretation in non historic times. Dating. How this developed and how it tells us when things happened.

Week 02: Mesolithic period

Covers Environment and Climatic change leading to separation of Britain from Continent. Also Hunting strategies, settlement evidence – Star Carr, Howick, Bowman’s Farm, Shouldham. Artefacts and tool production.

Week 03: Farming and Settlement

Development of farming in the Near East and its spread to Britain. Evidence for crops grown, domestic animals, field systems. Longhouses such as Haldon and Hembery in Devon, Balbridie in Scotland, Balley Galley in Ireland and Orkney houses.

Week 04: Flint, Stone and Pottery

Discussion on material culture and developments in tool making and pottery. How things were made and where the raw materials were obtained. Illustration will enable students to use them as reference in future Units.

Week 05: Causewayed Enclosures

Discussion and when, what were they? How were they used. Some were defended, why was this? Site evidence includes Windmill Hill, Hembury, Maiden Castle, Hambledon and Carn Brea.

Week 06: Burial Monuments

Covers the different types of burial monument. Earthen Long Barrows e.g. Fussells Lodge, Severn Cotswold tombs e.g. Hazelton North and West Kennet. Portal dolmens, Duffryn Ardudwy, Carn Euny. Passage Graves. E.g. Newgrange, Maes Howe and Clava Cairns

Week 07: Linear Monuments

These concern movement and land division. Bank Barrows (without burials) e.g. Maiden Castle and Long Bredy and Cursus such as Dorset, Stonehenge and the Bank Cairn at Rough Tor in Cornwall are all ritual monuments. Sweet Track and other trackways in the somerset Levels and in Ireland are all people paths and built for people and animals to cross boggy areas.

Week 08: Stone and Timber Circles

Discussion on circles made of timer or stone or both consecutively can vary in size from small monuments such as those on Dartmoor – Scorhill Down – and Cornwall – Merry Maidens and Boscawen Un- to very large ones. These are found across the British Isles from Brodgar and Stenness in Orkney to Stonehenge in Wessex. Timber Circles include  Seahenge in Norfolk, Greyhound Yard in Dorset and Ballynahatty in Ireland

Week 09: Henges

Henge monuments, circular monument of banks and ditches with 1 – 4 entrances come into use around 3000BC we will discuss these and their possible uses. A complex of henges at Thornborough, Mayburgh in Cumbria. Mega henges discussed will include Avebury, Marden, Mount Pleasant and Durrington Walls.

Week 10: Ritual Landscapes

The course will finish with a discussion on ritual Landscapes where a number of ritual monuments collect in one area, are built communally and used over many years. These mainly occur in the Late Neolithic and by the Early Bronze they go out of use never to return. Why this is has not yet been understood but may have something to do with changes in ritual practice generally and the coming of metals into British societies. We will discuss this.

Learning Outcomes

  • Students will understand the differences between Mesolithic and Neolithic societies.
  • Through a study of the “Neolithic package”, pottery, polished stone axes, farming and monuments students will gain some understanding  of how Neolithic people organised their lives
  • Students will consider ritual through a study of burial and communal monuments and see the effects of these on Neolithic people.
  • Students will develop some understanding of how tools and pottery were manufactured and how the materials to make them were obtained.