This collection of 24 papers aims to reconsider the nature and significance of the Irish Sea as an area of cultural interaction during the Neolithic period. The traditional character of work across this region has emphasised the existence of prehistoric contact, with sea routes criss-crossing between Ireland, the Isle of Man, Anglesey and the British mainland. A parallel course of investigation, however, has demonstrated that the British and Irish Neolithics were in many ways different, with distinct indigenous patterns of activity and social practices. The recent emphasis on regional studies has further produced evidence for parallel yet different processes of cultural change taking place throughout the British Isles as a whole. This volume brings together some of these regional perspectives and compares them across the Irish Sea area. The authors consider new ways to explain regional patterning in the use of material objects and relate them to past practices and social strategies. Were there practices that were shared across the Irish Sea area linking different styles of monuments and material culture, or were the media intrinsic to the message? The volume is based on papers presented at a conference held at the University of Manchester in 2002.
Vicki Cummings is Reader in Archaeology in the School of Forensic and Applied Sciences, University of Central Lancashire where she specialises in the Mesolithic and Neolithic of Britain and Ireland, with a particular focus on monuments and landscape. She has a broader interest in hunting and gathering populations, interpretive archaeology and stone tools. Is Senior Lecturer in the School of History, Classics and Archaeology at Newcastle University. He has wide ranging research interests in British and European later Mesolithic, Neolithic and early Bronze Age archaeology with a particular focus on mortuary remains and the application of anthropological approaches to the body and the person in prehistoric archaeology.
1. Introduction: locating The Neolithic of the Irish Sea: materiality and traditions of practice (Vicki Cummings and Chris Fowler) 2. Neolithic connections along and across the Irish Sea (Alison Sheridan) 3. An Irish sea change: some implications for the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition (Rick Schulting) 4. Connecting the mountains and sea: the monuments of the eastern Irish Sea zone (Vicki Cummings) 5. The searchers: the quest for causewayed enclosures in the Irish Sea (Kenneth Brophy) 6. Tales of the land, tales of the sea: people and presence in the Neolithic of Man and beyond (Timothy Darvill) 7. Fluid horizons (Aaron Watson) 8. Falling off the edge of the Irish Sea: Clettraval and the two-faced Neolithic of the Outer Hebrides (Cole Henley) 9. Labouring with monuments: constructing the dolmen at Carreg Samson, south-west Wales (Colin Richards) 10. Stones that float to the sky: portal dolmens and their landscape of memory and myth (Alasdair Whittle) 11. In touch with the past? Monuments, bodies and the sacred in the Manx Neolithic and beyond (Chris Fowler) 12. Rock art, identity and death in the early Bronze Age of Ireland and Britain (Edward Evans and Thomas A. Dowson) 13. The setting and form of Manx chambered cairns: cultural comparisons and social interpretations (Vicki Cummings and Chris Fowler) 14. Where is the Cumbrian Neolithic? (Helen Evans) 15. The Isle of Man: central or marginal in the Neolithic of the Irish Sea? (Peter Davey) 16. Neolithic worlds: islands in the Irish Sea (Gabriel Cooney) 17. Axes, kula, and things that were 'good to think' in the Neolithic of the Irish Sea regions (Keith Ray) 18. Materiality and traditions of practice in Neolithic south-west Scotland (Julian Thomas) 19. Evidence of absence? The Neolithic of the Cheshire Basin (David Mullin) 20. Away from the numbers: diversity and invisibility in late Neolithic Wales (Rick Petersen) 21. By way of illustration: art, memory and materiality in the Irish Sea and beyond (Andrew Jones) 22. The early Bronze Age on the Isle of Man: back into the mainstream? (Jenny Woodcock) 23. Layers of Life and Death: aspects of monumentality in the early Bronze Age of Wales (Marcus Brittain) 24. Memory, tradition and materiality: the Isles of Scilly in context (Trevor Kirk)