A revision of the materiality of architecture: the significance of Neolithic long mound and chambered monument building practice, with particular reference to the Cotswold-Severn Group

  • Lesley McFadyen

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    My research is on the significance of building practice at sites that are known as chambered monuments or long cairns and long mounds. In particular, this work focuses on the long cairn sites of Gwernvale, Powys and Hazleton North, Gloucestershire; and the long mound sites of Easton Down, Beckhampton Road, Horslip, and South Street in the Avebury region of Wiltshire, and Gussage Cow Down 78 and 294 in Dorset. These sites are considered to be among the first 'architectures' in Britain. These architectures have been considered by archaeologists to characterise part of what we know about the neolithic in southern Britain. There are features and material culture associated with the mesolithic at these sites but this evidence has previously been understood as having made a 'place' for architecture, or as having created a 'setting' for later architectural constructions. I am writing to challenge our architectural understandings of these sites.

    In the following chapters trees, the processing of wood, hearth settings, the working of flint, grassland, worked earth, the processing of animal bone are recognised as having been a part of the connective dynamics of architectural construction. I will argue that material culture that was a part of these activities was left in these areas. These small things were parted, re-assembled and entwined together into assemblages that blur archaeologists distinctions between fifth and fourth millennia B.C. lives and that blur distinctions between hunter-gatherer and pastoralist (and partly agriculturalist) practices. Practices of making did not remain the same; neither did practices of connecting, parting, re-assembling and entwining materials. Material culture, as a media for making and understanding connections between people and things, did not remain constant. However, through encounters with the material and historical conditions of others lives, people made something of living and dying during the fifth and fourth millennia.
    Date of Award2003
    Original languageEnglish


    • Chambered monuments
    • long cairns
    • long mounds
    • building practices
    • Prehistoric architecture
    • Prehistoric Britain
    • Neolithic Age
    • Southern Britain
    • material culture

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