Britain's 'Neolithic Brexit' revealed


Blackleaf
#1
The birth of British identity began 5,000 years ago when the country found itself secluded from the continent in a ‘late Neolithic Brexit’ archaeologists believe.

A new study suggests that monuments like Stonehenge and Avebury acted like prehistoric focal points, drawing Britons from the far corners of Scotland, England and Wales to central meeting places where they could feast together as compatriots.

The lengthy pilgrimages have been uncovered by studying pig bones at settlements surrounding megalithic stone circles and henges, which show the animals had travelled vast distances.


‘Neolithic Brexit’ unearthed at Stonehenge shows British identity began 5,000 years ago, archaeologists say



Megalithic monuments like Stonehenge acted a focal points for huge mass gatherings of the first Britons experts now


Sarah Knapton, science editor
14 March 2019
The Telegraph

The birth of British identity began 5,000 years ago when the country found itself secluded from the continent in a ‘late Neolithic Brexit’ archaeologists believe.

A new study suggests that monuments like Stonehenge and Avebury acted like prehistoric focal points, drawing Britons from the far corners of Scotland, England and Wales to central meeting places where they could feast together as compatriots.

The lengthy pilgrimages have been uncovered by studying pig bones at settlements surrounding megalithic stone circles and henges, which show the animals had travelled vast distances.

The mass gatherings probably coincided with important dates in the agricultural calendar, and according to archaeologists, demonstrate a level of social complexity, mobility and national identity not previously appreciated.

Dr Richard Madgwick of the School of History, Archaeology and Religion and Cardiff University, said: “Both the scale and volume of movement was much bigger than we suspected we would find.

“One of the reasons was a loss of contact with continental Europe during this period. This was a late Neolithic Brexit and we start seeing evidence of a pan-British society, rather than trans-continental links.

“We get the same pottery styles throughout Britain during this period and although I am sure there were still tribes, this is the first time we see pan-British events which even if everyone didn’t go on these pilgrimages, they would have known about them, and recognised their importance.

“So yes I do think it was the birth of a British identity.”


Weighing collagen from Neolithic pigs for isotope analysis CREDIT: CARDIFF UNIVERSITY

In the most comprehensive study ever undertaken, Dr Madgwick and colleagues joined forces with Jane Evans and Angela Lamb from the British Geological Survey to examine the bones of 131 pigs from four late Neolithic sites; Durrington Walls, Marden, Mount Pleasant and West Kennet Palisade Enclosures.

The sites, which date from around 2800-2400BC, surround Stonehenge and Avebury in Wiltshire and were the settlements of those who built the ceremonial monuments.

To find out where the pigs were from, the team used a technique called isotope analysis on the animals’ bones. Isotopes are different forms of an element which change based on location and are found in food and water.

Over time, they become incorporated into tissue and bone, so provide a record of the area in which the animal or human was during its formative years.

The results showed that the animals were raised as far away as Scotland, North East England and West Wales, as well as numerous other locations across Britain.

Although previous studies have shown signs of huge feasts, until now it was unclear where the people taking part had come from.

Many experts thought they were locals, but the new research shows just how far people were willing to travel to be part of the mass national celebrations.


Avebury stone circle

The pigs were probably driven across the country alive, with travellers stopping along the way to fatten up the animals in preparation for the feasts.

The journeys may have taken many weeks on foot as there is no evidence of carts, wheels or domesticated horses at the time.

Dr Madgwick believes the gatherings may have occurred in the winter and at important dates in the agricultural calendar.

Previously experts have suggested monuments like Stonehenge are aligned to mark dates in the farming year, such as Samhain, now Halloween, when domesticated animals were traditionally brought down for the hills for feasting.

“These gatherings could be seen as the first united cultural events of our island, with people from all corners of Britain descending on the areas around Stonehenge to feast on food that had been specially reared and transported from their homes,” added Dr Madgwick.

“Arguably the most startling finding is the efforts that participants invested in contributing pigs that they themselves had raised. Procuring them in the vicinity of the feasting sites would have been relatively easy.

“Pigs are not nearly as well-suited to movement over distance as cattle and transporting them, either slaughtered or on the hoof, over hundreds or even tens of kilometres, would have required a monumental effort.

“This suggests that prescribed contributions were required and that rules dictated that offered pigs must be raised by the feasting participants, accompanying them on their journey, rather than being acquired locally.”

The research was published in the journal Science Advances.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/...lithic-brexit/
 
Curious Cdn
#2
That's interesting because almost immediately after all those Neolithic monuments went up, a wave of immigrants from the Continent known as the "Beaker People" completely displaced the probably dark-skinned Neolithic natives, who appeared to have literally died out quickly. There is no archaeological evidence of a violent takeover, either so it may have been a viscious plague that wiped them out ... like what Smallpox did to the native population, here.

http://www.theguardian.com/science/2...na-study-shows
 
Blackleaf
#3
Quote: Originally Posted by Curious Cdn View Post

That's interesting because almost immediately after all those Neolithic monuments went up, a wave of immigrants from the Continent known as the "Beaker People" completely displaced the probably dark-skinned Neolithic natives, who appeared to have literally died out quickly. There is no archaeological evidence of a violent takeover, either so it may have been a viscious plague that wiped them out ... like what Smallpox did to the native population, here.
http://www.theguardian.com/science/2...na-study-shows

It's not known for sure if the first people in Britain had dark skin, but it's true that most Britons are descended from the Beaker People, not those who built Stonehenge.
 
Curious Cdn
#4
Quote: Originally Posted by Blackleaf View Post

It's not known for sure if the first people in Britain had dark skin, but it's true that most Britons are descended from the Beaker People, not those who built Stonehenge.

European immigrants ...
 

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