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Re-interpreting the Danebury assemblage: houses, households, and community

Davis, Oliver ORCID: 2013. Re-interpreting the Danebury assemblage: houses, households, and community. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 79 , pp. 353-375. 10.1017/ppr.2013.16

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Cunliffe's excavations at Danebury have revealed an Iron Age settlement in extraordinary detail. Its inhabitants have come to represent, in the popular literature at least, the idealised hillfort community of warriors, craftsmen, farmers, and their families in a hierarchically ordered settlement system. This model has been vigorously challenged, although largely from a theoretical perspective, and there has been little contextual re-analysis of the dataset. This paper seeks to re-examine the Danebury structural assemblage and question why Iron Age people came together in this place, and how those that did come perceived their place within wider group identities. By examining patterns of activity within the interior of Danebury this paper demonstrates that the nature of the community that resided in the hillfort changed considerably over the course of the Early and Middle Iron Age. In particular, it is argued that Danebury was occupied by a permanent population. The organisation of domestic space, however, was tightly managed. In the early period occupation was characterised by single round-houses of individual household units emphasising their distinctiveness by spatial isolation and variability in round-house design. A dramatic change in the nature and intensity of occupation came in the late period. A large number of ‘identikit’ round-houses were tightly packed into the quarry hollows in the lee of the ramparts. This probably represents households from the surrounding settlements moving into the hillfort. It is also argued that the communal construction and maintenance of Danebury's defences would have been a way for a dispersed population to have reproduced a sense of community. Participation may also have been a mechanism of maintaining networks and relationships with other households in the long term.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
Uncontrolled Keywords: Danebury; hillfort; round-house; household; doorway orientation; community
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISSN: 0079-497X
Last Modified: 25 Oct 2022 10:14

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