Wessex Culture Revolution? or Beaker Evolution? The Decline and Fall of Stonehenge - Conference at Bournemouth University 16-18th April, 2010

The Megalithic Portal and Megalith Map:Wessex Culture Revolution? Conference at Bournemouth University 16-18th April

The conference will address a problem that archaeologists of the Early Bronze Age have faced since William Cunnington and Sir Richard Colt Hoare first dug into the barrows of Salisbury Plain. What happened to Beaker burial practice in Southern Britain between the late Third and early Second Millennium BC?

In the area of Wessex (the counties of Dorset, Wiltshire and Somerset), several dramatic changes occurred that transformed the face of the landscape forever. New barrow forms started being built in lines and groups, field boundaries emerged, advanced bronze weaponry from Europeand artistry in gold and amber flourished and ceremonial henges suddenly stopped being elaborated. In cemeteries across Wessex burial practices changed from inhumation to cremation burial in a relatively short time.

Archaeologists have struggled to characterise these different practices. Speculation as to what brought about these changes have ranged from foreign warriors to local insurrections, but for the past forty years little research has been done to understand the reasons for this dramatic change. However, recent discoveries have sparked a flurry of new studies and this conference aims to pool knowledge from archaeologists working with early second millennium artefacts, burials and other evidence from Britain and the Continent to better understand the dynamics of this change termed the ‘Wessex Culture’.

Provisional Programme Highlights:

Paul Garwood - 'Elite' funerals, monuments and landscapes in the 2nd millennium BC: Wessex graves in long-term perspective
John Hunter -Ritual and Early Bronze Age Gravegoods
Ann Woodward - Does the Wessex Culture exist?
Jo Appleby & Andrew Martin - Beyond Fashion: Characterising the shift in cremation in Early Bronze Age Wessex
John Gale - Changing focus and identity in Early Bronze Age Dorset
Mike Allen - Did the farming economy generate the Wessex Culture wealth; changes in environment and agriculture
Jan Harding - Henges and ceremonial monuments
Wessex and the Wider World - Jodie Lewis and David Mullin
West of Wessex but only just: barrow construction on the Mendip Hills, Somerset
Alison Sheridan - Perspectives from beyond Wessex
Ros Cleal - Avebury Barrows
Sabine Gerloff - The locations and chronology of European artefact links abroad
Anthony Harding - Long distance travel and trade in the Bronze Age: the Wessex connection
Martyn Barber & Helen Wickstead - Metallurgy and Society
Nick Thorpe - The Age of warriors? Beaker to Wessex Culture warfare and violence
Jonathan Last - The rise of the round barrow

Further details and on-line registration can be found at:
or email csconferences@bournemouth.ac.uk

WessexCulture, 16th – 18th April 2010
Centre for Archaeology, Anthropology and Heritage, Bournemouth University, Bournemouth, Dorset, UK


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