October 15, 2012

The winding road to agriculture

Antiquity Volume: 86 Number: 333 Page: 707–722

Did Neolithic farming fail? The case for a Bronze Age agricultural revolution in the British Isles

Chris J. Stevens1 and Dorian Q Fuller2

This paper rewrites the early history of Britain, showing that while the cultivation of cereals arrived there in about 4000 cal BC, it did not last. Between 3300 and 1500 BC Britons became largely pastoral, reverting only with a major upsurge of agricultural activity in the Middle Bronze Age. This loss of interest in arable farming was accompanied by a decline in population, seen by the authors as having a climatic impetus. But they also point to this period as the time of construction of the great megalithic monuments, including Stonehenge. We are left wondering whether pastoralism was all that bad, and whether it was one intrusion after another that set the agenda on the island.


1 comment:

eurologist said...

Anyone want to comment on the ~1,500 BCE time frame? That's clearly IE in northern Europe, but definitely not yet Celtic as we know it.

If I had enough money to bet losing my shirt more than once, I would suggest that an early form of "Celtic" made it NW at this time. Why? Island Celtic is so different that I can't fathom it being a very late derivative of what was spoken at Hallstatt nor what was Celt-Iberian nor what was early Ligurian-like.