Round Mounds and Monumentality in the British Neolithic and Beyond

November 28, 2020
Round Mounds and Monumentality in the British Neolithic and Beyond

This volume, the tenth published collection of seminar papersfrom the Neolithic Studies Group, is based upon a conference thattook place at the British Museum in November 2008. The meetingaimed to consider the chronology and development of Neolithic roundmounds; their changing form and use; their relationships tocontemporary cultural, ancestral and natural landscapes; the extentto which they provide scope for identifying local and regionalsocial organization; and, not least, why they were round. Followingthe conference, further papers were offered for this edited volume,widening and broadening the initial discussion. The papers arearranged in rough geographic order starting in the north andworking southwards before heading across the Irish Sea and then theAtlantic. Following a wide-ranging discussion of round moundsacross the world, two papers discuss aspects of Scottish roundmounds, before moving down to the Isle of Man, the Neolithic roundmounds of the Yorkshire Wolds, Liffs Low in the Derbyshire PeakDistrict, and round mounds on the Cotswolds. The volume then movesto Wessex, starting with a discussion of Silbury Hill, and followedby a re-evaluation of the Great Barrow at Knowlton, Conquer Barrowat Mount Pleasant, and the Hatfield Barrow at Marden. Howarchaeologists and heritage managers choose to interpret roundmounds is the subject of the next paper, using Silbury Hill as theprimary case study. This is followed by a broad discussion ofcircular traditions, particularly formative henges, in Wales andadjacent counties, round burial mounds in the Boyne Valley,Ireland, such as Knowth, Dowth and Newgrange, and Irish roundmounds containing portal tombs. By way of comparison with theevidence from the British Isles, the volume then crosses over toNorth America for a broad discussion of mound-building traditionsthere. Rounding off the volume is another wide-ranging essay on thenature of round mounds, which challenges our very understanding andinterpretation of them.