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Settlement duration and materiality: formal chronological models for the development of Barnhouse, a Grooved Ware settlement in Orkney

Richards, Colin, Jones, Andrew Meirion, MacSween, Ann, Sheridan, Alison, Dunbar, Elaine, Reimer, Paula, Bayliss, Alex, Griffiths, Seren and Whittle, Alasdair ORCID: 2016. Settlement duration and materiality: formal chronological models for the development of Barnhouse, a Grooved Ware settlement in Orkney. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 82 , pp. 193-225. 10.1017/ppr.2016.6

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Radiocarbon dating and Bayesian chronological modelling, undertaken as part of the investigation by the Times of Their Lives project into the development of Late Neolithic settlement and pottery in Orkney, has provided precise new dating for the Grooved Ware settlement of Barnhouse, excavated in 1985–91. Previous understandings of the site and its pottery are presented. A Bayesian model based on 70 measurements on 62 samples (of which 50 samples are thought to date accurately the deposits from which they were recovered) suggests that the settlement probably began in the later 32nd century cal bc (with Houses 2, 9, 3 and perhaps 5a), possibly as a planned foundation. Structure 8 – a large, monumental structure that differs in character from the houses – was probably built just after the turn of the millennium. Varied house durations and replacements are estimated. House 2 went out of use before the end of the settlement, and Structure 8 was probably the last element to be abandoned, probably during the earlier 29th century cal bc. The Grooved Ware pottery from the site is characterised by small, medium-sized, and large vessels with incised and impressed decoration, including a distinctive, false-relief, wavy-line cordon motif. A considerable degree of consistency is apparent in many aspects of ceramic design and manufacture over the use-life of the settlement, the principal change being the appearance, from c. 3025–2975 cal bc, of large coarse ware vessels with uneven surfaces and thick applied cordons, and of the use of applied dimpled circular pellets. The circumstances of new foundation of settlement in the western part of Mainland are discussed, as well as the maintenance and character of the site. The pottery from the site is among the earliest Grooved Ware so far dated. Its wider connections are noted, as well as the significant implications for our understanding of the timing and circumstances of the emergence of Grooved Ware, and the role of material culture in social strategies.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
Uncontrolled Keywords: Bayesian chronological modelling; Grooved Ware; Neolithic settlement; Orkney; Radiocarbon dating
Publisher: Prehistoric Society
ISSN: 0079-497X
Funders: ERC-funded Advanced Investigator Grant project
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 17 May 2016
Date of Acceptance: 8 January 2016
Last Modified: 01 Nov 2022 16:58

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