6,000-year-old long barrow uncovered near Cirencester, England
A 6,000-year-old prehistoric burial monument has been uncovered northeast of Cirencester in the Cotswolds by archaeologists from Bournemouth University.
|Aerial shot of students at the Cotswolds dig [Credit: Bournemouth University]|
The barrow was first noticed about ten years ago and has since been studied through a wide range of geophysical surveys and evaluations that confirmed its identification. In the summer of 2016 proper excavations began with a team of around 80 students, graduates and archaeologists from across the world working to explore the stonework of the mound and define possible chambers inside the structure that might contain burials. Traditionally, up to 50 men, women and children were buried in such monuments over a period of several centuries, long before the discovery of metal working.
|Archaeologists working in Cotswolds [Credit: Bournemouth University]|
He added: “There are so many questions to be asked, but the most important are the simple ones. Who built these great stone monuments and were prepared to invest so much time and effort in their construction? Where did they get their ideas from? How were they built? When were they built? Why were they built? And can we get to know something of the beliefs held by the communities that used them and were ultimately buried within them?”
|Students at the Cotswolds dig [Credit: Bournemouth University]|
“Practical experience is key really – for me, it’s the way that I learn. I think getting out and doing as much field work as possible is really important.”
|BU Student at Cotswold Dig [Credit: Bournemouth University]|
“Before the Neolithic, when people are living by hunting and gathering, even a really good hunter could probably only share their kill with eight-ten people. But once people started farming things changed. By growing crops and herding animals, good farmers who looked after their gardens and livestock could build up really big herds and surplus produce in a way that allowed some individuals to become more wealthy than others. Were these the people buried in the long barrows? Or was everyone given a place there? These kinds of social questions are matters that we hope this new site will shed new light on.”
|Students measure dig site [Credit: Bournemouth University]|
“It differs from a formal excavation in that you’re not taking out large trenches: you’re effectively doing keyhole surgery using the archaeological equivalent of a large drill. You don’t see the end picture until it is uploaded into a computer. The idea is that it doesn’t ruin archaeology – you’re building up a model without doing anything destructive.”
Due to resume in the summer of 2017, attendees and those interested in the dig should contact project leader Professor Tim Darvill on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: Bournemouth University [September 30, 2016]