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Title: Rethinking the henge monuments of the British Isles
Authors: Cummings, Lucy Bethany
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: The henge monuments of Britain and Ireland are some of the best, and yet most poorly understood, monuments of Neolithic/Bronze Age Europe. Defined as later Neolithic enclosures with a circular bank, inner ditch, and usually one or two entrances, henges have been considered as a single category of site since they were first identified in the 1930s. As the category grew, and further attempts to sort the variety into subtypes created new terms, it became increasingly apparent that the wide variation in their size and architecture meant that they cannot simply be assumed to share a single use and meaning. Drawing from the large number of sites currently described as henge monuments, this thesis highlights the effect of classification on loosening the rigidity in the definition of site ‘types’, explores the problematic nature of typology within archaeology, and examines its longlasting effect on understanding and public perception of sites. This thesis uses a relational approach to typology to argue that there are small regional ‘types’ visible within the variation of the henge class, but that a clear henge type can only be considered loosely. It also examines the importance of a biographical approach, in understanding why sites were constructed and how such an approach can be combined with a typological approach to extend the interpretation and investigate sites at a range of scales. The thesis discusses the development of, and the variation within henge monuments, whilst also showing that there are similarities across a wider range of Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age circular enclosures at different periods. A database of all sites previously and currently considered to be henge monuments, collated using a variety of sources (e.g. HERs, catalogues, and excavation reports) accompanies this thesis, and provides the first such catalogue since Harding and Lee’s influential 1987 publication.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of History, Classics and Archaeology

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