18 August, 2008

What is this Blog about?

I am a professional archaeologist who has spent 20 years trying to gain an understanding of timber building and architecture in the Prehistoric Britain, and this blog is the only way I have to disseminate the things I have found out and the methodology I use.
Its a vast subject, so in this blog I intend to try and concentrate on timber buildings and structures from a selection of sites in the southern half of England from the period 2000BC -500AD.
I am writing this blog so that anyone can read it. It takes longer, but has the advantage of ensuring that archaeologists will be able to follow it too. Its not just that archaeologists are very diverse in their intellectual backgrounds and approaches, but also because they bring with them far more preconceptions. It is difficult to remember what I understood about the subject before I began this study.
The blog is not heavily referenced, and it contains a few jokes. I will try to draw in material from a wide range of unrelated areas of archaeology to broaden its appeal and provide a wider range of visual images. It is to be hoped that readers may find other interesting aspects of archaeology and the ancient world to follow up from this blog.
Being largely made of wood, the Prehistoric built environment has long since vanished, which makes it rather difficult to study, and as a result we know little about it. The less we know about a subject, the more it becomes the subject of conjecture and speculation, and some strange dogma has developed about the subject.
What I have discovered so far is interesting because it fills some of the gaps in our knowledge. However, its wider importance lies in the central role that the built environment plays in any farming culture in Britain.
The temperate zone of Western Europe with its prevailing westerlies makes for wet and windy weather. In winter, periods of heavy snowfall and prolonged sub-zero temperatures are not unknown. This requires robust architecture or life would become very difficult. Luckily, Britain is in a zone of temperate broadleaved forest that provides ample materials for timber building such as English Oak, which yields exceptional timber for building. These factors have helped give rise to vigorous culture of timber frame building in oak, certainly in terms of the surviving examples from the last millennium.
What this blog will demonstrate is that in prehistory, architecture was just as adaptable, diverse, and technically competent as in later times, and that builders were just as capable of providing the built environment that society required.
So come and see whats happening. It's just starting to get exciting! - Latest Post here:
Reports on the principle archaeological sites covered in detail later in this blog are to be found in the following publications:
Excavations at Little Woodbury, Wiltshire. Part 1, the settlement revealed by excavation. Bersu, G: Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, 6, 1940. 30 -111.
Excavations at the North Ring, Mucking, Essex. Bond, D EAA Report No.43; Archaeology section ECC 1988
A Late Bronze Age enclosure at Lofts Farm, Essex. Brown, N :Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 54, 1988.249 – 302
The Bronze Age and Saxon settlements at Springfield Lyons, Essex. Buckley D G, and Hedges J D, .Essex County Council, Occasional Paper No.5. 1987
Excavations at the Orsett ‘Cock’ enclosure, Essex, 1976. Carter, G. A. East Anglian Archaeology Report No 86. 1998
Caesar’s Camp, Heathrow, Middlesex. Grimes, W F, and Close-Brooks J. :,Proc Prehist Soc 59, 1993, 299-317,
An Iron Age settlement in Dorsett: Excavation and reconstruction.Harding, D W, Blake I M, and Renolds P J, University of Ediburgh. Department of Archaeology Monograph series No. 1, 1993
The crop-mark sites at Mucking, Essex, England. In Bruce-Mitford, R Ed. Recent archaeological excavations in Europe.Jones, M. U & Jones, W.T., Robert Routledge Kegan Paul 1975: 133 -187,
Rectangular Post-built structures. Poole, C In Danebury: an Iron Age Hillfort in Hampshire. Volume 1 The excavations, 1969 –1978: the site. Cunliffe B, CBA Research report 52, 1984:, 87 - 110 The Deverel-Rimbury settlement on Thorny Down, Winterbourne Gunner, S Wilts. Stone, J-F S, Proc Prehist Soc 7 1941, 114-33.
Gussage All Saints: an Iron Age settlement in Dorset. Wainwright, G. J. . Dept of Environment Archaeological reports No 10. 1979


Is2012TheDate said...

I just discovered your blog today and I will be reading for a while.I'm very interested in all the theories about the origin of these monuments.Thanks.

Geoff Carter said...

I hope you will enjoy the experience, I am always glad to answer questions.

hardscrabble farmer said...

Fantastic site! I'm a farmer in New England and I am always coming across foundations from historic sites as well as prehistoric stone works that are much more difficult to understand. I think you're on the right track with your agrarian theme in buildings, etc. Form follows function.

Thanks again.

Geoff Carter said...

Thank you for you positive comments; form does follow function - but perhaps you have to be a farmer to understand that!