The Development of Neolithic House Societies in Orkney

The Development of Neolithic House Societies in Orkney

By: Richard Jones (editor), Colin Richards (editor), Stuart Jeffrey (contributor)Hardback

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Considering that Orkney is a group of relatively small islands lying off the northeast coast of the Scottish mainland, its wealth of Neolithic archaeology is truly extraordinary. An assortment of houses, chambered cairns, stone circles, standing stones and passage graves provides an unusually comprehensive range of archaeological and architectural contexts. Yet, in the early 1990s, there was a noticeable imbalance between 4th and 3rd millennium cal BC evidence, with house structures, and `villages' being well represented in the latter but minimally in the former. As elsewhere in the British Isles, the archaeological visibility of the 4th millennium cal BC in Orkney tends to be dominated by the monumental presence of chambered cairns or tombs. In the 1970s Claude Levi-Strauss conceived of a form of social organisation based upon the`house' - societes a maisons - in order to provide a classification for social groups that appeared not to conform to established anthropological kinship structures. In this approach, the anchor point is the `house', understood as a conceptual resource that is a consequence of a strategy of constructing and legitimising identities under ever shifting social conditions. Drawing on the results of an extensive programme of fieldwork in the Bay of Firth, Mainland Orkney, the text explores the idea that the physical appearance of the house is a potent resource for materialising the dichotomous alliance and descent principles apparent in the archaeological evidence for the early and later Neolithic of Orkney. It argues that some of the insights made by Levi-Strauss in his basic formulation of societesa maisons are extremely relevant to interpreting the archaeological evidence and providing the parameters for a `social' narrative of the material changes occurring in Orkney between the 4th and 2nd millennia cal BC. The major excavations undertaken during the Cuween-Wideford Landscape Project provided an unprecedented depth and variety of evidence for Neolithic occupation, bridging the gap between domestic and ceremonial architecture and form, exploring the transition from wood to stone and relationships between the living and the dead and the role of material culture. The results are described and discussed in detail here, enabling tracing of the development and fragmentation of societes a maisons over a 1500 year period of Northern Isles prehistory.

About Author

Colin Richards is Professor of World Prehistory in the Deaprtment of Archaeology at the University of Manchester where he mainly specialises in Neolithic archaeology, architecture and monumentality and ethnoarchaeology, with specific interests in Orkney and Easter Island. Richard Jones is Honorary Lecturer in the Department of Archaeology, University of Glasgow. In addition to his work in Orkney his main research interests in archaeological geophysics, pottery technology and function, and non-destructive techniques in the analysis of archaeological materials.


Contents Acknowledgements List of figures List of tables Chapter 1 Images of Neolithic Orkney Colin Richards & Richard Jones Chapter 2 Houses of the dead: the transition from wood to stone architecture at Wideford Hill Colin Richards & Andrew Meirion Jones Chapter 3 Place in the Past: an early Neolithic house at the Knowes of Trotty barrow cemetery, Harray, Mainland, Orkney Jane Downes, Paul Sharman, Adrian Challands, Patricia D. Voke, Erika Guttmann-Bond, Jo McKenzie & Roy Towers Chapter 4 Local histories of passage grave building communities: Brae of Smerquoy Christopher Gee, Colin Richards & Mairi Robertson Chapter 5 Good neighbours: Stonehall Knoll, Stonehall Meadow and Stonehall Farm Colin Richards, Kenny Brophy, Martin Carruthers, Andrew Meirion Jones, Richard Jones & Sian Jones Chapter 6 At Stonehall Farm, late Neolithic life is rubbish Colin Richards, Richard Jones, Adrian Challands, Andrew Meirion Jones, Sian Jones & Tom Muir Chapter 7 The settlement of Crossiecrown: the Grey and Red Houses Nick Card, Jane Downes, Richard Jones, Colin Richards & Antonia Thomas Chapter 8 Reorientating the dead of Crossiecrown: Quanterness & Ramberry Head Rebecca Crozier, Colin Richards, Judith Robertson & Adrian Challands Chapter 9 Materializing Neolithic house societies in Orkney, introducing Varme Dale & Muckquoy Colin Richards, Jane Downes, Christopher Gee & Stephen Carter Chapter 10 Beside the ocean of time: a chronology of Neolithic burial monuments and houses in Orkney Seren Griffiths Chapter 11 Prehistoric pottery from sites within the Bay of Firth: Stonehall, Crossiecrown, Wideford Hill, Brae of Smerquoy, Muckquoy, Ramberry and Knowes of Trotty Andrew Meirion Jones, Richard Jones, Gemma Tully, Lara Maritan, Anna Mukherjee, Richard Evershed, Ann MacSween, Colin Richards & Roy Towers Chapter 12 Flaked lithic artefacts from Neolithic sites around the Bay of Firth: Wideford Hill, Knowes of Trotty, Brae of Smerquoy, Stonehall, Crossiecrown and Ramberry Hugo Anderson-Whymark, Richard Chatterton, Mark Edmonds & Caroline Wickham-Jones Chapter 13 The coarse stone from Neolithic sites around the Bay of Firth: Stonehall, Wideford Hill, Crossiecrown, Knowes of Trotty and Brae of Smerquoy Ann Clarke Chapter 13.1 The pumice from Crossiecrown and Stonehall Ann Clarke Chapter 13.2 The black stone bead from Structure 1, Stonehall Farm Alison Sheridan Chapter 13.3 The haematite and iron-rich materials Effie Photos-Jones, Arlene Isbister & Richard Jones Chapter 14 The animal remains from Stonehall and Crossiecrown Catherine Smith & Julie A. Roberts Chapter 14.1 The human remains from Ramberry Head David Lawrence Chapter 15 Bay of Firth environments from the 2nd to 4th millennium BC: the evidence from Stonehall, Wideford Hill, Crossiecrown, Knowes of Trotty, Varme Dale & Brae of Smerquoy Jennifer Miller, Susan Ramsay, Diane Alldrit & Joanna Bending Chapter 15.1 Palaeoenvironmental investigation of a peat core from Stonehall Susan Ramsay, Stephanie Leigh-Johnson & Rupert Housley Chapter 16 The micromorphological analysis of soils and site contexts at Stonehall and Crossiecrown Charles A. I. French Bibliography Index

Product Details

  • ISBN13: 9781909686892
  • Format: Hardback
  • Number Of Pages: 512
  • ID: 9781909686892
  • ISBN10: 1909686891

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