A number of overarching comments came out of workshop discussions for the framework that should be taken into consideration for the Prehistoric period:
Do not ignore topsoil. Sieving of topsoil samples as part of evaluation mitigation work may have a part to play. Geophysical survey generally poor technique in NW, include fieldwalking as a non-intrusive technique. Links with Q6.More training needed such as for targeted and structured fieldwalking. Need re-analysis of Upper Palaeolithic lithics and training workshops. Can we predict or use opportunities more, eg. change to arable notifications?
Review investigation projects undertaken on wetland/wetland fringe areas through development control.
Assess grey literature/publications for references to the survey. The survey has allowed assessment and evaluation of peat deposits to be included in development control work. Also gives pointers to where lithic deposits may occur in topsoil.
The Survey has inspired a number of developer-funded projects in Cheshire eg. Arclid Quarry, Ince Marshes, and Hockenhull Lake (Gowry Valley).
There is an urgent need to retrieve, process and publish the archives for the Morecambe Bay cave and rock shelter excavations. This is especially relevant to the material accumulated by the late Chris Salisbury.
In the event of excavated material being unavailable or incomprehensible, targeted excavations of cave and rock shelter sites around Morecambe Bay may verify or extend the data from earlier excavations.
This looks like a Morecambe Bay Partnership funding bid involving OA North.
Further field survey is required to provide a representative sample of material from all topographic and geological zones throughout the region.
Target palaeo-channels and riverbanks for Mesolithic assemblages. Organise master classes in recognition of early flint types. Review and update sampling guidelines and training. General strategy for whole Prehistoric period – continuity of settlement related to geography. Target palaeo-channels and wetlands for evidence of votive deposits.
Carry out a review of unpublished excavation sites and finds assemblages. Many finds assemblages are in private hands. Produce web-based database. Provide professional support mechanism for non-professional evaluations. Establish funded internships to support existing curators in tackling backlogs.
Beyond the uplands, the arable areas in the surrounding lowland have seen remarkably little systematic field survey, although suitable conditions for field walking are widespread.
Review results of the Eden Valley fieldwalking project.
Training in field walking and artefact recognition is needed.
Further work is required on the identification and survey of burnt mound sites.
We know where they occur and could legitimately focus on likely locations in development control work.
Carry out inter-regional studies. Include dating (we now know they continue from Late Neo/Early BA to Early Med.)
Contact relevant researchers such as Tom Gardner doing PhD on the geo-archaeology of burnt mounds at Edinburgh.
What dates are they? Some in the North East are Neolithic.
NWWS clearly showed that burnt mounds do not occur around the blanket bogs/raised mires such as Lindow Moss, Rixton Moss, etc. Nor do they occur around the open-water meres found in north Shropshire around Ellesmere. They are, however, abundant around the fen-type environments and peats found at baggy Moor and the Weald Moors in Shropshire.
Look at how recent discoveries challenge our perceptions of the Neolithic and Bronze Age. Research symposium to question our understanding and set out future directions. Link to international research strategies/agendas.
Inter-regional research conferences. Suitable for research funded projects including a PhD.
Synthesis of excavation evidence. Intra and inter regional comparisons. Commission research theses including PhD. Further work needed on the occurrence of ‘4-post’ structures in terms of chronology and settlement hierarchy.
Look at persuading developers to fund C14, academics are covering this, but dissemination is an issue.
Advances in Bayesian statistics and AMS dating improved over last 10yrs.
Add radiocarbon and Bayesian modelling to other dating methods to ensure sufficient dating including in Written Schemes of Investigation for places of persistent occupation.
Make sure the requirement for radiocarbon dating is identified in the Brief/Specification.
Develop training scheme for Bayesian modelling.
There is a need to identify well-preserved Mesolithic contexts for production of secure radiocarbon dates.
Ensure radiocarbon dating of non-bulk sampled material from Mesolithic sites.
The application of scientific dating techniques is essential for providing a secure chronology and the basis for further work.
Target archives to re-evaluate evidence.
Investigation of surveyed features is also required.
A detailed survey of features is required.
Undertake collaborative projects to collect and re-analyse existing survey data – we need to challenge our own perceptions.
Priority: unpick the sequence of Neolithic occupation evidence.
There is a need for a re-assessment of hillfort excavation archives in the light of modern research in order to locate artefactual material and establish the chronological depth of these sites.
A wider literature search may reveal a more common reuse of earlier monuments during the Iron Age than previously acknowledged. This would fall in line with Barrett (1999a; 1999b) and others understanding of the reorganisation of the prehistoric landscape during the 1st millennium BC.
Targeted excavation should be used to retrieve new dating evidence. The recently published Habitats and Hillforts volume shows what can be gained from the re-examination of early archives and the value of tracking down missing material.
The wetlands of the North West appear to have seen continual activity from the Mesolithic through to the Iron Age but there is still a need to characterise the nature of the practices carried out in such areas, and to establish whether their use and/or meaning changed through time.
The North West Wetlands Survey has produced an assessment of the wetland resource. This work needs to be followed with targeted sampling and investigation of the most important waterlogged sites (English Heritage 2003).
Reports mentioned under Q2 provide some pointers as to what may be achieved.
See geo-archaeology studies on wetlands under EM3I of the East Midlands Research Framework.
This should include both limited sampling exercises, designed to obtain material for absolute dating (in order to develop an absolute chronological framework for different types of monuments), and more extensive projects to examine individual sites in exhaustive detail.
Buried soils sealed beneath barrows, cairns, banks and walls offer the possibility for the recovery of palaeoenvironmental material and analyses directed towards understanding clearances and changes in the patterns of vegetational covering.
Develop links with Geography-based academics in the NW – shared approach.
Training needed for site staff.
Note that many greenfield housing developments will involve flood alleviation work that involves significant modification of stream courses and the exposure of alluvial sediments and peat.
Programmes of mitigation can be designed to include procedures to examine sections for likely deposits with a clear process of assessment by suitably experienced specialists and, where justified, full analysis covering pollen, macrofossils, micromorphology.
In a development control context, the keys to success are field staff who recognise the potential in the field and a clear distinction between assessment and analysis to control costs and retain the credibility of the process.
Links with PH40
Building on the results of the current English Heritage-funded Upland Peat Project.
Peat questions – covers multiple periods. Where appropriate, scientific dating should be targeted for peat sites.
Natural features and fissures within bedrock must be investigated thoroughly when encountered.
Need to state reason for needing this – it should be obvious but is not explicit.
Possible link with Ritual?
Further detailed environmental work is imperative in order that the results of past pollen analytical studies are revised in line with modern dating and interpretative methodologies. This should involve the reinterpretation of previous work as part of a broader programme of radiocarbon dating of existing material, as well as the sampling and close analysis of sedimentary contexts close to known prehistoric sites.
Selected material from cores taken during the North West Wetlands Survey could be subject to absolute dating in line with specific research projects.
Are there any archived cores in the NW, and if so then where are they and in what condition? Cores through peat deposits are needed.
Emphasis should be put on targeting wetlands close to known sites to gain local data and any evidence for cereals.
There is a pressing need for greater scrutiny of methods and techniques in archaeological survey. Some areas still require the most basic of systematic surveys to assess the survival of archaeological remains. In other areas there is a need to move towards more intensive surveys, beyond simply acknowledging the existence of a site that will enable the building of integrated interpretations of these archaeological landscapes.
Undertake seismic and sediment analysis. Enhance coverage within existing protocols eg. offshore renewables/marine aggregates.
Building on Historic Landscape Characterisation data.
Synthesising disparate data sets and overlaying land characterisation on GIS
Ensure that NW Historic Environment Records are accessible on-line and in a GIS-based format.
Use of LiDAR and aerial photography coupled with distribution patterns of finds could help to build migration maps of the North West. This will help to identify changes within the landscape related to migration and seasonal movement.
Re-evaluation of existing archives of excavated sites could identify the changing status and dynamics of settlements and religious sites. Use of geophysical surveys along with LiDAR for a more detailed aerial study will help to identify previously un-noted topographical and structural changes to these sites over time.
There is a need for analysis of the context of burnt mounds in relation to contemporary settlement and other sites.
Generally a negative correlation but how much is that due to invisibility of settlement evidence.
Need targeted examination of possible Palaeolithic deposits in other areas of the North West – particularly Cheshire, Merseyside and the Fylde.
Targeted excavation of a range of Mesolithic sites to secure lithic assemblages from secure contexts.
Typological analysis of lithic types coupled with radiocarbon dating.
It is worth re-emphasising that the uneven distribution of known sites of Neolithic and Bronze Age date is almost certainly the result of site visibility and past archaeological work. In particular the lack of known Neolithic settlement sites in the central area of the region must be viewed as a priority to be addressed.
Sites that have been identified through survey require further targeted work and characterisation, accompanied by programmes of dating. Both lowland and upland areas with no programmes of modern survey need to be prioritised for assessment, to bring them in line with other areas.
There is a skewed distribution of Bronze Age and Neolithic sites. Should target archaeological landscape surveys on areas with little previous study.
Desktop studies, air photo transcription, walkover surveys, field walking and geophysical survey could all provide further information on the larger enclosures of the North West. Ultimately some form of intrusive fieldwork and sampling is required to characterise and date these enclosure sites throughout the region.
Dating of even a few sites has the potential to transform our understanding of Early Neolithic activity in the region, and provide details of specific regional site characteristics.
Need regional landscape surveys to identify multiple sites not just Neolithic.
Collaboration with sites such as the megalithic portal, ADS, and other only data repositories.
Important to establish the presence, absence and chronology of lithic assemblages in a variety of topographical zones.
Beyond the uplands, the arable areas in the surrounding lowland have seen remarkably little systematic field survey, although suitable conditions for field walking are widespread.
Synthesis and review published/unpublished site reports.
Suitable for research funded projects including a PhD.
The excavation or re-excavation of a long barrow, cairn or tomb must be viewed as a priority. For sites such as the Bridestones (Ch) or Raiset Pike (C) many questions relating to constructional sequence and chronology remain and even minor investigations may recover datable material and aid further interpretation.
Material from antiquarian and earlier archaeological excavations may be present within museum collections and could be worthy of modern analysis. Although this requires an audit of material currently held within such collections, the potential may be high if intact assemblages can be recovered.
Undertake re-analysis of antiquarian data.
Further understanding of the Bronze Age funerary record would be considerably enhanced by the formation of regional typology and chronology of ceramic sequences. An assessment and catalogue of existing material must therefore be viewed as a priority.
The close characterisation of both round funerary monuments and ring cairns in the variety of contexts in which these occur is imperative if we are to understand the chronology and changing character of burial and depositional traditions in the region. This could be undertaken through programmes of detailed archival research where recorded excavations have taken place, alongside targeted survey, geophysical survey and small-scale excavation to obtain material for closer dating of such features.
There is a need for a regional study of Neolithic/Bronze Age ceramics and radiocarbon dating to enhance understanding of chronology.
Develop Bronze Age ceramic typologies.
The potential deposition of bronze artefacts in watercourses and lakes should be investigated, and the occurrence of artefactual evidence in these contexts needs to be considered during development control mitigation for water management and drainage works so that appropriate monitoring can take place.
Links with Q19
The distribution of megalithic monuments is currently concentrated in the north of the region. If this distribution really were genuine, then there is a need to identify what alternative funerary and ceremonial practices were undertaken elsewhere. If this distribution is due to differential survival and site visibility, then further survey and utilisation of various techniques are required (English Heritage 2003d).
Systematic review and survey of megalithic monuments.
The closer characterisation and clarification of sequences of individual sites and wider monumental complexes is imperative in order to bring understanding of such features in line with other areas of the British Isles. Such programmes should be undertaken using detailed archival research and air photo transcription alongside targeted field survey, geophysical survey and small scale excavation (English Heritage 2003d).
This could be undertaken in conjunction with targeted environmental work within the close environs of stone circle sites.
Conservation and management strategies need to recognise the importance of monument groupings or complexes, no matter how ‘poor’ individual sites might be, as much as targeting individual structures as ‘good examples of their kind’.
Equally, recognition that activity may have taken place beyond the immediate environs of a site requires the area of management to be drawn widely, and in the case of monument complexes, to encompass the areas between sites.
Improve management practices and recognition of this in a wider context.
The excavations at Carlisle Airport represent the most recent excavation of a potentially Neolithic ceremonial site, with apparent multiple phasing of some complexity. The full analysis and publication of this archive must be viewed as a priority. The ongoing assessment of the Carlisle archives needs to place equal emphasis on prehistoric material from the city environs, as on material from large-scale excavations undertaken within the city.
There are numerous potential ‘sites’ of circles documented in antiquity but no longer extant. These sites, if identified, may offer an opportunity for non-invasive techniques such as geophysics and excavation of structural features such as stone holes, without the risk of destructive and potentially contentious action at better known sites.
Synthesis and review of archives including those from antiquity.
Targeted,modern archaeologicalsurvey of likely locations for rock art, particularly in the Lake District and Pennines may reveal new sites. This could also include re-examination of megalithic monuments.
Small-scale excavation should be considered at some rock art sites, which may reveal the full extent of motifs, and allow collection of palaeoenvironmental evidence and material for radiometric dating.
Both upstanding earthworks and potential anomalies on aerial photographs require critical appraisal and characterisation. Targeted survey and evaluation of such features is imperative to establish the presence and chronology of Neolithic long and round cairns in the region, and their relationship with recorded Neolithic traditions of the western seaboard and other areas of northern England.
The lack of recorded Iron Age burials within the region is in some ways self-perpetuating, with remains often presumed to be of other dates because there are ‘no known Iron Age burials’.
There may be a significant amount of undated material already excavated and stored in archives that requires reassessment and dating.
Re-assess old excavation archives and apply more recent scientific analysis and dating techniques. Note: there are a number of undated human skulls from the Mersey around Warrington and the Dee. It seems entirely probable that many will be derived from the 1st millennium BC (whilst acknowledging that some, such as those from Marbury Mere in south Cheshire, proved to be early medieval following C14 dating).
Further extensive and intensive survey across a wide range of outcrops is required to locate additional stone sources, through identification of the distinctive waste material. This could be combined with detailed trace element characterisation of outcrops (Claris & Quartermaine 1989), development of other techniques of characterisation and more detailed technological characterisation (what was being made and how).
At the known sources, further monitoring of erosion and identification of working areas is required. In relation to this work, further opportunities for dating material associated with quarried sources should be taken as a priority as and when they arise. Source studies would also benefit from taking seriously the problem of erratics, though this issue is probably best addressed through the more careful examination of waste and worked implements found away from the source.
There is also a need to prioritise the dating of other archaeological contexts from which axes and related forms, including pieces of worked tuff, have been recovered. This would establish a check on the date range for the use of raw materials, and provide an opportunity to identify whether there is any temporal variability in the spread of implements across the region.
The assemblage of roughout forms from across known worked outcrops requires closer analysis, making use of existing provenanced collections. There are also extensive numbers of roughouts and blades within museums and private collections. While many do not have contextual information, detailed morphological and technological analysis could still be undertaken. Socketed and shafthole axes in museum collections are in need of raw material and morphological characterisation, as well as closer dating.
Strategy: re-analysis of museum collections. At the most basic level there is a need for characterisation of raw material sources, and close dating of typologies.
Prehistoric pottery typologies are still poorly understood and are reliant on chronologies and parallels from outside the region. The priority must be for more absolute dates, both from existing archives and by further scientific dating of contexts where prehistoric pottery types are securely stratified (particularly on developer-funded projects).
Fabric analysis, thin section analysis and sourcing of all prehistoric ceramics is required. This could incorporate the re-analysis of existing material in museum collections.
Analysis for lipids needs to be more widely applied for evidence of vessel use and consumption.
Overall a regional prehistoric pottery review and type series is required (English Heritage 2003d)
There is a need for analysis of the Bronze Age metalwork at a regional level. Particular patterns are evident that do not fit with national trends or follow modern political boundaries.
Trace element and lead isotope analysis needs to be far more widely applied to artefacts to address patterns of extraction, production and distribution at a regional scale.
Update chert typologies. Inter- and intra-regional comparisons of the sources of Mesolithic flint and chert assemblages.
Stanton West made a good start, further information needed.
Use of ICP-MS and geo sciences to identify a base line.
Review recent successful studies of waste materials and apply elsewhere.
MPhil in progress by Stephen Poole (Manchester University) on the range of raw materials available in the region.
Target museums to review previous analyses and select axes as appropriate for new geochemical analysis. Seek research funding. Use geochemical analysis help define mineral content characteristics of Langdale axes.
The close analysis of museum collections has the potential to clarify technological distinctions between Later Mesolithic/Early Neolithic technologies and those of the Later Neolithic/Early Bronze Age.
Strategy: analysis of museum collections.
Re-assess museum assemblages to identify regional Iron Age pottery types. Locate Very Coarse Pottery manufacturing sites through survey and scientific analysis.
Target metal processing residues on late prehistoric sites for analysis. Assess production techniques and mineral sources for PAS finds (also a General Strategy item).
Current work in the environs of the Neolithic axe production sites in the Langdale Fells has raised the possibility of Mesolithic activity in the area. Further survey, keyhole excavation, sampling and radiocarbon dating may elucidate information on the earliest exploitation of the Langdale volcanic series stone sources within these areas, and provide previously unknown information on aspects of Mesolithic material procurement.
Provide contextualisation of Langdale and Stanton West.
A reassessment of old archives of Romano-British but also potentially Iron Age sites is required. In particular finds of metalwork need to be located and revisited for modern analysis.
Re-assess old archives and plots of metal detector finds. Iron Age metalwork remains rare at a regional scale, and iron objects are believed to be uncommon, but there is no up-to-date corpus of Iron Age artefacts for the region.
Existing archives require revisiting with a view to evaluating the known extent of Iron Age material culture.
The publication of Meols and the finds on the PAS database help considerably towards this study.
The scarcity of ceramic and metal containers has led to the suggestion of the widespread use of organic containers. Despite their presumed abundance, no such artefacts have yet been recovered from the region. Waterlogged contexts must be viewed as potentially preserving such items and investigated accordingly with extreme scrutiny.
Comment: this may help us to understand the lack of metal and ceramic artefacts.
The Scheduled Monument term of ‘Promontory Forts’ should be reviewed in the context of NW late Iron Age defended settlements and a number of recent archaeological investigations.
Examine promontories and hilltop sites using landscape analysis tools such as LIDAR. Examine ditched settlements versus open settlement chronology. Product of topography or cultural expression?
We need to synthesise and review recent research investigations and older archives to provide a framework of chronological development and architectural styles. Hillfort entrances should be examined for evidence of defence/attack etc, including for example caches of slingstones. What evidence is there for destruction by fire, such as at Beeston and Eddisbury in Cheshire?