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The Late Glacial Palaeolithic

The Late Glacial Palaeolithic: Open Air Sites and Their Landscapes

With thanks to the organiser: Professor Nick Barton FSA (Institute of Archaeology, University of Oxford)


Image: Open-air site of Bradgate Park, Leicestershire. Used with the kind permission of Lynden Cooper.

Over the last 25 years archaeological research into the Later Upper Palaeolithic in Britain has often focused on caves and rockshelter sites. These have ranged from major fieldwork surveys in karstic areas of Britain (Roberts et al., 1996; Barton et al., 1997; Aldhouse Green 1997) to renewed investigation of known sites (Barton et al., 1995; Jacobi, 2004), that has led to some breathtaking new discoveries such as the first British example of Palaeolithic rock art at Creswell Crags (Bahn et al., 2003). Coupled with these studies has been a comprehensive programme of radiocarbon dating of human and animal bone remains from cave sites (Jacobi and Higham, 2011) that have provided one of the best chronological records for the Late Glacial period (15,000 to 11,700 cal BP) anywhere in Europe. However, it has also produced a one-sided picture of human behavioural activity at the end of the last Ice Age, at a time when Britain was still connected to Europe by a dry landbridge. According to archaeological survey data from adjacent areas of the continent (including France and Belgium) large numbers of Later Upper Palaeolithic open-air sites should be preserved in lowland Britain. But in contrast to the continent there are only rare occurrences of such examples in Britain and thus their potential as sources of information has largely been overlooked.

In this conference we aim to refocus attention on the broad use of Late Glacial landscapes and open-air sites by mobile groups of early hunter-gatherers. This is partly inspired by the discovery, over the past five years, of a number of significant new Later Upper Palaeolithic open sites in Britain, brought to light by a combination of developer funded projects and academic and community led survey and excavations. It reflects a growing recognition of the importance of such locations and their potential for providing behavioural information to complement that of Later Upper Palaeolithic caves and rockshelters. Amongst the exciting new projects to be reviewed by contributing specialists are Farndon Fields and Bradgate Park in areas adjacent to the east midlands caves, as well as sites along lake edges and in river valley situations in central and southern England, including a recent discovery near Guildford. Presentations will also consider within-site analyses and the relationship of open-air sites to caves, as well as new ideas on the interpretation of Late Glacial landscapes in Britain and neighbouring areas of Europe.

Conference Programme

Please note, all titles are currently provisional.

9.00-10.00: Registration (tea and coffee provided)

10.00-10.20: Welcome – John Lewis, General Secretary

Followed by: The end of the Palaeolithic: Open Air Sites and Their Landscapes – Prof Nick Barton, FSA (University of Oxford).

Session 1 – Setting the Scene: Background to Late Glacial Landscapes – Chaired by Dr Matthew Pope, FSA

  • 10.20-10.40: Environmental Background to Glacial Landscapes – Dr Rhiannon Stevens (UCL)
  • 10.40-11.00: Rivers as Corridors of Past Human Activity – William Mills (Institute of Archaeology, Oxford)
  • 11.00-11.20: Discussion
  • 11.20-11.40: Short break

Session 2: Open-Air Sites Near Caves and Upland Landscapes – Chaired by Prof Paul Pettitt, FSA

  • 11.40-12.00: Bradgate Park: a Strategic Hunting Location – Mr Lynden Cooper (Project Officer, University of Leicester Archaeological Services)
  • 12.00-12.20: Between the Caves and the Coast, Farndon Fields – Daryl Garton (Project director working with Heritage Lottery Fund) and Julia Kotthaus (Institute of Archaeology, Oxford)
  • 12.20-12.40: Research into LUP Sites in Scotland - Dr Torben Ballin (independent consultant)
  • 12.40-13.00: Discussion

13.00-14.00: Lunch (provided)

Session 3: Open-Air Sites in Context – Chaired Prof Nicky Milner, FSA

  • 14:00-14.20: UP Flint Scatters and their Interpretation – Dr Chantal Conneller (University of Manchester)
  • 14.20-14.40: Guildford UP Site: a Refitting Case Study – Alison Roberts (Ashmolean Museum)
  • 14.40-15.00: Bexhill: Extracting Information from Multiple Scatters – Mike Donnelly (Oxford Archaeology commercial unit).
  • 15.00-15.20: Discussion
  • 15.20-15.40:  Short break

Session 4: Approaches to Landscapes in Europe – Chaired by Prof Nick Barton, FSA

  • 15.40-16.05: Late Glacial Open Landscapes in Northern France – Dr Nicolas Naudinot (Maitre de Conférences, Université de Nice Sophia Antipolis, CNRS CEPAM)
  • 16.05-16.30Intensive landscape research into the Lateglacial in the Scheldt basin of northern Belgium – Prof Philippe Crombé (Ghent University)
  • 16.30-17.00: Plenary Discussion – facilitated by Dr Matthew Pope, FSA

17:00-19.00: Reception (Wine and nibbles provided)

Please note, all titles are currently provisional.


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