Prehistory

Key overview statements to address for the Prehistoric period:

A number of overarching comments came out of workshop discussions for the framework that should be taken into consideration for the Prehistoric period:

  • Ceramics and coins are very different to other areas of the country, as shown by PAS with only Cheshire having coins.
  • There are very few four poster structures (though see the middle BA one excavated recently at Cut Acre, Bolton).
  • A national radiocarbon database is desperately needed e.g. we cannot say how many Neolithic radiocarbon dates there are for the NW, whereas dendrochronology dating is well coordinated and accessible.
  • It would be helpful to have all HERs on line and be able to interrogate them through GIS.
  • The EH/HE Thesaurus is not fit for purpose e.g. ‘hill top enclosures’. It needs an overhaul/review.
  • Investment should be targeted to better understand key sites.
  • Hillforts – more evidence is coming forward for defensiveness and fighting inside and out.
  • We need more predictive modelling, from large hill top to lowland defended sites including promontories.
  • The date range for Burnt Mounds needs to be clarified – don’t assume they are all prehistoric in origin.
  • Following discussion and agreement at the Prehistoric research framework workshop the agenda is now divided into the Early and Late Prehistoric phases, with the divide at the climatic downturn during the Middle Bronze Age, effectively placing Paleo, Meso, Neo and EBA into the Early Prehistoric and MBA, LBA and IA into the Later Prehistoric.
  • More training is needed for volunteers in issues/techniques relating to Prehistoric archaeology.

Prehistory Research Questions

General

PH01: How can we maximise potential recovery of lithics?

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Testing of the percentage target of evaluative excavation, with larger area excavations in appropriate circumstances and the use of non-invasive techniques such as geophysical survey. Sampling strategies with regard to the percentage of each feature excavated need to be flexible and relevant to the material under investigation, increasing (up to 100%) where necessary. (2.2:2.9)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?

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
LITHIC IMPLEMENT, EXCAVATION, INVESTIGATIVE TECHNIQUES, PREHISTORIC, FIELDWALKING SURVEY

PH02: How effective has the North West Wetlands Survey been as a planning and research tool?

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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).

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
PREHISTORIC, Wetland, Coastal Wetland, Synthesis

PH03: How does new evidence from cave and rock shelter sites help with the understanding and significance of earlier unpublished investigations?

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Strategy: Morecambe Bay Cove and Rock shelters 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. (2.4:2.18) 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. (2.4:2.19) This looks like a Morecambe Bay Partnership funding bid involving OA North.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
EXCAVATION, CAVE, PREHISTORIC, Rock Shelter, Collections research, publication

PH04: How can we enhance existing datasets for Prehistory in the region?

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Further field survey is required to provide a representative sample of material from all topographic and geological zones throughout the region. This needs to be linked to a programme of excavation targeting a range of site types. (2.4:2.20) 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.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
EXCAVATION, PALAEOCHANNEL, PREHISTORIC, FIELD SURVEY, Wetland

PH05: How can we prioritise the significant backlog of work on early prehistoric sites and assemblages?

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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.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
Early Prehistoric, ASSEMBLAGE, Collections research, Synthesis

PH06: How can we gain a better understanding of Neolithic and Bronze Age settlements and farming through extensive field walking?

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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. The Eden Valley in particular remains an area of high potential, and is currently the subject of a field walking project. (2.5:2.32) Review results of the Eden Valley fieldwalking project. Strategy: Training in field walking and artefact recognition is needed.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
SETTLEMENT, BRONZE AGE, NEOLITHIC, FIELDWALKING SURVEY, Training, Agriculture

PH07: How can we use commercial projects to target the identification and exploration of burnt mounds and their contexts?

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Further work is required on the identification and survey of burnt mound sites. As they are distinctive and easily identifiable to the trained eye, they are potentially identifiable through non-intrusive survey. (2.5:2.49) We know where they occur and could legitimately focus on likely locations in development control work.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
PREHISTORIC, FIELD SURVEY, Burnt Mound

PH08: How does the typology, location and distribution of burnt mounds in the north West compare to those elsewhere in the UK?

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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.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
DATING TECHNIQUES, PREHISTORIC, Burnt Mound, typology, Chronology, Synthesis

PH09: How can we test our perceptions of the Neolithic and Bronze Age?

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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.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
BRONZE AGE, NEOLITHIC, Conference

PH10: How can we broaden our view of the Neolithic and the Bronze Age to a wider regional context?

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Inter-regional research conferences. Suitable for research funded projects including a PhD.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
BRONZE AGE, NEOLITHIC, Higher Education research, Conference

PH11: How can we move forward to an understanding of prehistoric building morphologies?

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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.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
PREHISTORIC, BUILDING, Post Built Structure, Higher Education research, Synthesis

Chronology and Dating

PH12: How can we apply more widespread dating for prehistoric sites?

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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. Routine radiocarbon dating should be accepted as the norm on all potentially prehistoric sites. This needs to target a wide variety of features and deposits, both with and without artefacts.(2.2:2.8) 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.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
DATING TECHNIQUES, PREHISTORIC, Training

PH13: Where there are sealed secure groups of microliths, how can we obtain relative radiocarbon date associations?

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There is a need to identify well-preserved Mesolithic contexts for production of secure radiocarbon dates. This would assist with a more precise chronology for the whole Mesolithic period. (2.4:2.21) Ensure radiocarbon dating of non-bulk sampled material from Mesolithic sites. (2.4:2.26)

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
RADIOCARBON DATING, MESOLITHIC, Microlith, Chronology

PH14: How can we enhance our understanding of the late Mesolithic to early Neolithic transition?

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The application of scientific dating techniques is essential for providing a secure chronology and the basis for further work. This will entail the analysis and publication of numerous archives that are currently ‘static’, without funding for further work. Targeted excavation of sites with indications of Late Mesolithic and Early Neolithic material may also prove fruitful, when combined with palaeoenvironmental work and radiocarbon dating. (2.4:2.27) Target archives to re-evaluate evidence.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
DATING TECHNIQUES, LATE MESOLITHIC, EARLY NEOLITHIC, Palaeoenvironmental Analysis, Collections research, Chronology

PH15: What can identified and surveyed features tell us about Neo/BA time depth and chronologies?

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Investigation of surveyed features is also required. Close characterisation and dating of enclosed and unenclosed settlements, enclosures, clearance cairns, funerary cairns and ring cairns needs to be undertaken in order to assess the time depth implicit in the extant record of these areas. Large scale collaborative projects between National Parks, government bodies, universities and local archaeology groups have taken place in other regions, and have yielded successful and significant results. There is a need for a forum for such interested parties to meet and work together on future projects. (2.5:2.33) 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.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
BRONZE AGE, NEOLITHIC, ENCLOSED SETTLEMENT, CAIRN, Unenclosed Settlement, Clearance Cairn, Chronology, Synthesis

PH16: What can a re-assessment of hillfort excavation archives tell us about the chronological depth of these sites?

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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. (2.6:2.71) 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. (2.6:2.73) 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.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
HILLFORT, PREHISTORIC, Collections research, Chronology, Synthesis

Environment

PH17: How can a programme of sampling and investigation help to characterise landscape use of the wetlands during the prehistoric period?

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See geo-archaeology studies on wetlands under EM3I of the East Midlands Research Framework. Strategy point – development lead beyond Watching Briefs, infrastructure, extend to lowland areas and palaeo-channels. 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 2003d, 2.3). (2.1:2.4) Reports mentioned under Q2 provide some pointers as to what may be achieved.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
INVESTIGATIVE TECHNIQUES, PREHISTORIC, SPECIALIST SAMPLING, Wetland

PH18: What can palaeoenvironmental analysis of buried soils tell us about prehistoric environments?

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Survey needs to be accompanied by targeted excavation. 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. (2.1:2.5)

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
EXCAVATION, PREHISTORIC, BURIED LAND SURFACE, Survey, Palaeoenvironmental Analysis, Chronology, Environment

PH19: How can we best capture data for the palaeoenvironment in prehistory?

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Development and implementation of techniques for site-specific palaeoecological and other environmental sampling, targeting areas of high potential such as coastal, alluvial and colluvial deposits. (2.2:2.10) 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

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
ENVIRONMENTAL SAMPLING, PREHISTORIC, Palaeoenvironmental Analysis, Training

PH20: How can we improve methods for evaluating areas of upland peat?

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Development of methods for evaluating areas of peat – 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. (2.2:2.14)

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
ENVIRONMENTAL SAMPLING, DATING TECHNIQUES, PREHISTORIC, PEAT

PH21: How can methodologies be developed to sample natural features and fissures more easily?

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Natural features and fissures within bedrock must be investigated thoroughly when encountered. (2.5:2.48) Need to state reason for needing this – it should be obvious but is not explicit. Possible link with Ritual?

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
ENVIRONMENTAL SAMPLING, PREHISTORIC

PH22: How can a scientific evaluation of existing archives help to expand our understanding of the environment in prehistory?

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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. (2.2:2.15) 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.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
DATING TECHNIQUES, PREHISTORIC, Palaeoenvironmental Analysis, Collections research

Settlement and Land use

PH23: How can we identify previously unknown prehistoric sites?

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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 (2.1:2.3)

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
PREHISTORIC, FIELD SURVEY, EVALUATION

PH24: How can we identify drowned early Mesolithic sites?

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Undertake seismic and sediment analysis. Enhance coverage within existing protocols eg. offshore renewables/marine aggregates.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
ENVIRONMENTAL SAMPLING, EARLY MESOLITHIC, UNDERWATER SURVEY, Seismic Survey

PH25: How can we better understand the distribution of prehistoric archaeology across the landscape?

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The development of landscape studies for the investigation of prehistoric settlement potential, possibly building on Historic Landscape Characterisation data. Strategy – Synthesising disparate data sets and overlaying land characterisation on GIS (2.2:2.13)Ensure that NW Historic Environment Records are accessible on-line and in a GIS-based format.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
PREHISTORIC, HISTORIC LANDSCAPE CHARACTERISATION, Synthesis

PH27: How did people exploit different parts of the wider landscapes when they moved around?

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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.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
LIDAR SURVEY, PREHISTORIC, GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY, AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH INTERPRETATION, Collections research, Landscape

PH29: What activities were undertaken during the Palaeolithic in the North West of England?

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Need targeted examination of possible Palaeolithic deposits in other areas of the North West – particularly Cheshire, Merseyside and the Fylde. (2.4:2.17)

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
PALAEOLITHIC, ASSEMBLAGE, DEPOSIT, Palaeoenvironmental Analysis

PH31: How can national and international studies of Mesolithic houses and associated assemblages enable us to identify site types?

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Targeted excavation of a range of Mesolithic sites to secure lithic assemblages from secure contexts. Typological analysis of lithic types coupled with radiocarbon dating. (2.4: 2.25)

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
RADIOCARBON DATING, SETTLEMENT, MESOLITHIC, LITHIC IMPLEMENT, LITHIC SCATTER, typology

PH32: How can targeted survey and excavation address the issue of sparsity of Neolithic settlement in the North West?

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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. (2.5:2.29) 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. (2.5:2.30) There is a skewed distribution of Bronze Age and Neolithic sites. Should target archaeological landscape surveys on areas with little previous study.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
SETTLEMENT, BRONZE AGE, NEOLITHIC, Survey

PH33: How good is our understanding of the location and distribution of larger Neolithic enclosures?

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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. (2.5:2.38) 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.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
NEOLITHIC, ENCLOSURE, Survey, Chronology

PH34: How can we develop a strategy to maximise, identify and gain information from plough zone lithic scatters?

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Methodologically secure transect based programmes of surface survey of ploughzone scatters are important to establish the presence, absence and chronology of lithic assemblages in a variety of topographical zones. (2.5:2.58)

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
LITHIC SCATTER, PREHISTORIC

PH35: How can we identify whether there is a settlement hierarchy for later Prehistoric lowland settlements?

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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. (2.6:2.33) See also pages 39-40 of the 2007 NW Region Research Agenda publication. Synthesis and review published/unpublished site reports. Suitable for research funded projects including a PhD.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
SETTLEMENT, PREHISTORIC, FIELD SURVEY, Higher Education research, Synthesis

Religion and Ritual

PH38: How can re-excavation or new excavation inform our understanding of the constructional sequence and chronology of Prehistoric funerary monuments?

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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. (2.5:2.44) 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. (2.5:2.45) Undertake re-analysis of antiquity data.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
CAIRN, PREHISTORIC, Tomb, Long Barrow, Collections research

PH39: How can advances in scientific dating techniques be used to enhance our understanding of Bronze age funerary practices?

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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. (2.5:2.46)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. (2.5:2.47)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.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
DATING TECHNIQUES, BRONZE AGE, POTTERY, FUNERARY SITE, Collections research, typology, Synthesis

PH40: How can we use development control mitigation to create opportunities to monitor potential deposition sites for Prehistoric artefacts in watercourses and lakes?

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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. (2.5:2.68) Links with Q19

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
ASSEMBLAGE, DEPOSIT, PREHISTORIC, Lake, Watercourse

PH41: Why are megaliths predominantly located in the North of the region and is this a true reflection of their distribution?

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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, 2.5). (2.5:2.34) Systematic review and survey of megalithic monuments.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
PREHISTORIC, Survey, Stone Circle, Henge, Chambered Tomb, Synthesis

PH42: How can an inter-regional study of the distribution of monument complexes help us to understand Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments in a wider landscape context?

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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, 9.3). This could be undertaken in conjunction with targeted environmental work within the close environs of stone circle sites. (2.5:2.35) 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. (2.5:2.39) Improve management practices and recognition of this in a wider context.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
MONUMENT, BRONZE AGE, NEOLITHIC

PH43: What evidence is there in the region for Neolithic ceremonial sites and how should they be investigated?

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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. (2.5:2.36)

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
NEOLITHIC, RELIGIOUS RITUAL AND FUNERARY, Collections research, publication

PH44: What more can we learn about circle sites?

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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. (2.5:2.37) Synthesis and review of archives including those from antiquity.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
PREHISTORIC, Stone Circle, Collections research, Synthesis

PH45: How can we identify rock art on megalithic monuments and broaden our understanding of its origins?

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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. (2.5:2.40) 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. (2.5:2.41)

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
ENVIRONMENTAL SAMPLING, ROCK ART, PREHISTORIC, FIELD SURVEY

PH46: How good is our understanding of the location and distribution of Neolithic long and round cairns?

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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. (2.5:2.42)

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
NEOLITHIC, Survey, Round Cairn, Long Cairn

PH47: Why is there a paucity of recorded Iron Age burial sites?

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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. (2.6:2.72) 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).

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
IRON AGE, BURIAL, Collections research

Technology and Production

PH48: How can stone and metal sources and associated activity areas be better dated and understood?

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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). (2.5:2.52) 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. (2.5:2.53) 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. (2.5:2.54) 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. (2.5:2.55) 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. (2.5:2.56)

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
QUARRY, METAL EXTRACTION SITE, PREHISTORIC, Collections research

PH49: How can we advance our understanding of Prehistoric ceramic typologies and intra-regional differences?

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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). (2.5:2.61) 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. (2.5:2.62) Overall a regional prehistoric pottery review and type series is required (English Heritage 2003d, 3.1) (2.5:2.63) Needs synthesis.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
POTTERY, PREHISTORIC, typology, Synthesis

PH50: How can we analyse Bronze Age metals to better understand the materials?

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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. (2.5:2.64) 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. (2.5:2.65)

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
BRONZE AGE, METAL, ASSEMBLAGE, Lead Isotope Dating

PH51: How can detailed material typologies for Mesolithic assemblages improve our understanding?

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Update chert typologies. Inter- and intra-regional comparisons of the sources of Mesolithic flint and chert assemblages. (2.4: 2.23) Stanton West made a good start, further information needed.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
MESOLITHIC, LITHIC IMPLEMENT, typology

PH52: How, where and when did people access raw materials for lithics and finished products?

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Development of a programme of scientific analysis for characterising the sources of Mesolithic flint and chert implements. (2.4: 2.24) 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.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
LITHIC WORKING SITE, LITHIC IMPLEMENT, INVESTIGATIVE TECHNIQUES, PREHISTORIC

PH53: How can we expand our understanding of the Langdale Axe series?

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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.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
NEOLITHIC, GEOCHEMICAL SURVEY, Axehead, Collections research

PH54: How can the close analysis of museum collections clarify distinctions between Later Mesolithic/Early Neolithic technologies and those of the Later Neolithic/Early Bronze Age?

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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. (2.5:2.60) Strategy: analysis of museum collections.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
NEOLITHIC, LITHIC IMPLEMENT, ASSEMBLAGE, LATE MESOLITHIC, EARLY BRONZE AGE, Collections research

PH55: What are the regional Late Bronze Age and Iron Age pottery types?

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Re-assess museum assemblages to identify regional Iron Age pottery types. Locate Very Coarse Pottery manufacturing sites through survey and scientific analysis.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
IRON AGE, LATE BRONZE AGE, POTTERY MANUFACTURING SITE, Collections research, typology

PH56: What is the evidence for Late Bronze Age and Iron Age metal processing?

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Target metal processing residues on late prehistoric sites for analysis. Assess production techniques and mineral sources for PAS finds (also a General Strategy item).

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
METAL, IRON AGE, METAL PROCESSING SITE, LATE BRONZE AGE

PH57: How can we facilitate the study of logboats?

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Examine construction, deposition, context and dating. Synthesis of new and museum material.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
PREHISTORIC, Logboat, Collections research, Synthesis

Exchange and Interaction

PH58: What time periods and cultural groups exploited polished stone axes and how did they become dispersed around the region?

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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. (2.4:2.28) Provide contextualisation of Langdale and Stanton West.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
RADIOCARBON DATING, MESOLITHIC, NEOLITHIC, EXCAVATION, Survey

PH59: How can we develop an updated corpus of Iron Age artefacts, especially metalwork?

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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. (2.6:2.70) 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. (2.6:2.74)

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
ROMAN, METAL, IRON AGE, Collections research, typology

PH60: How can waterlogged contexts be targeted to help our understanding of the use of organic artefacts in the Iron Age?

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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. (2.6:2.75) Comment: this may help us to understand the lack of metal and ceramic artefacts.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
IRON AGE, ORGANIC MATERIAL, WATERLOGGED SAMPLE

Defence and Warfare

PH61: Which defended Iron Age settlements have Bronze Age/Neolithic antecedents, and what might be reason for this?

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Part of national strategy. Requires comprehensive dating.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
DATING TECHNIQUES, BRONZE AGE, NEOLITHIC, IRON AGE, Defended Enclosure, Chronology

PH62: How appropriate are Scheduled Monument descriptions for defended small-scale native settlements?

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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.

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
IRON AGE, Promontory Fort, Defended Enclosure

PH63: To what extent can we identify defended Iron Age enclosures based on favourable topography?

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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?

Status:
Active
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
LIDAR SURVEY, IRON AGE, ENCLOSED SETTLEMENT, Chronology

PH65: Where did fighting take place at defended sites?

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Look inside and outside structures/defences. Compare hillfort sites.

Status:
Date of next review:
16/01/2025
Found in the following Frameworks:
North West Research Framework
Categories:
HILLFORT, ENCLOSED SETTLEMENT, PREHISTORIC

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