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distinctive regional traditions
on another thread it was aluded that neolithic pit digging in east anglia had nothing to do with neolithic pit digging in northern england. can this be so? is there such a thing as a distinctive regional tradtion in neolithic pit world or is it a little to easy to dismiss pertient evidence that happens to come from a different region?
If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about answers
Round here they don't tend to come in nice clumps like they do eg at Kilverstone, more a diffuse scatter across the landscape (eg the 153 pits at Marton-le-Moor had a density of only 3.8/ha, good thing it was a BIG site) and most of them don't come with handy bits of pot and flint so it's a bit of a leap of faith expending yer C14 budget on the 'undated' ones - seems to work though (mostly), hopefully now I've got away with it successfully my stuff can be used as a justifiaction by others for trying the same, gets a bit tedious, endless dates telling you your pits with Late Neo pot are, err, Late Neo, am starting a campaign in favour of the much abused 'undated' element :face-approve:
Depends on the size and shape of your chosen 'region'.

Depends on the evidence.

Depends on your question.

Humans have a habit of demonstrating their 'difference' be it ethical, religious, kinship or even locational based in a multitude of mundane (and non-mundane) ways. You need to vary the scale of analysis to 'see' this.

My favorite recent example of someone demonstrating this will to demonstrate difference was a Yorkshire dales farmer I spoke to whilst doing an uplands survey. We were talking about sheepfolds, bields etc and he proudly pointed to the nearest one and said.

'We build round ones [here], call em rounds.'

Which was true, for the most part. I wonder where the territory of the rectangular sheepfold tradition started. I also wonder if you mapped these territories of traditions across the country from the physical evidence, then define actual perceived traditional 'territories' through interviewing how well they would tie in. It would make a great study.

Bet it would show how rubbish archaeologists are at deriving 'traditions' meaning and differing areas of different traditions from the physical evidence.

But to get back to neolithic and contrast the actual evidence.............look for similarities but don't ignore the differences.............don't follow the trendy academic themes.

Tailor the range of comparisons to the question.

Yes comparing East Anglian pits to say those on Orkney may provide some interesting comparison relating to general traditions, differing traditions and the functional aspects of the purpose of digging a pit, but wont tell you much about how the Orkney pits differ from other Orkney pits.

At the other end of the similar are East Anglia neo pits to neo pits in say the balkans? Or the far east? Anyone know? What questions would that comparison be asking?
but in all this you have still to demonstrate what they were for. there is no reason that a nearby pit should be any more relevant than one in the balkans
If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about answers
Jack Wrote:....comparing East Anglian pits to say those on Orkney may provide some interesting comparison relating to general traditions...

More fish? Smile
Intersting discussion this could be. am sitting back just now. as there is a real debate to be had here and want to read more.

must have been a bugger for first time farmer, not sure if the neos were catching them in the pits or just trying to worship them but I imagine that they were worth eating as a grub as well as a beetle .
Reason: your past is my past
The comments about 'undated' pits were fairly serious - on big sites with lots of Neo pits (the recent Nosterfield publication springs to mind) the undated ones tend to be not really talked about but assumed to be broadly 'contemporary' (allowing for the 2000ish year spread), and at Marton-le-Moor (will get published eventually-honest!) there was nothing of any other period on the whole site so it was a pretty fair bet they were all Neo/Beaker. Even on finds-rich pit sites in Northern England only around 40% of pits actually have finds. However, there are other sites where there are vast numbers of unexplained features on the site plan - the WYAS monograph for Ferrybridge only mentions about half a dozen Neo pits on the whole job, without explaining what all the other ones were.... On small sites there are often isolated 'undated' small pits with no obvious associations or finds - how many of you can honestly hold your hands up to ever spending C14 budget on them? To judge by the little experiment I've just been doing an awful lot of those random small holes in the landscape are early prehistoric and pretty much everywhere. Perhaps we're asking the wrong questions - the model of there being lots with pot in around sites like henges may hold true, but that is partly because they are around henges (and hence more likely to be found) and full of pot (and hence more likely to be dated). What happens across the countryside in between? If there are lots of pits with no finds in them, why is that? The real research problem is identifying them in the archaeological record - HERs aren't searchable by 'undated pit' since they don't tend to get mentioned in site reports and certainly not in HER entries.....

As a slight side issue, why are there usually earlier pits under or close to barrows and the like? They usually seem to comfortably pre-date the monument, so what's going on? Why switch from 2 thousand years of occasionally digging a small hole to suddenly building a damn great mound and never digging another pit? - broken shovel syndrome?
...oh, and where are there definitely not pits? - as an example, there seem to be plenty around Catterick, although for some reason none at Marne Barracks (the palisaded enclosures) or around the Scorton Cursus where huge areas have been monitored, yet other Neo monuments in the same area seem to have been pre-dated by them, eg the Catterick henge has Peterborough Ware pits under it and the Hollow Banks mini-henge has Peterborough and Grooved Ware pits. Would be interesting to get the Thornborough Henges stripped off and see whats happening close in to them....ok, suppose that isn't going to happen Sad
Quote:As a slight side issue, why are there usually earlier pits under or close to barrows and the like?

Interesting. Am currently looking at pits filled with little bits of Beaker and flint. Two done in detail from one site - cross-fitting sherds identified. Could just be rubbish disposal except the pits have been hacked into solid chalk and don't appear to have been used before or after the (single) fill event. Seems like overkill. Next to a later burial mound on the south of Cranborne Chase in Dorset.

Quote:is there such a thing as a distinctive regional tradtion in neolithic pit world

Temporality needs to be considered as well as regionality. I don't think that any "meaning" (if you can assume that meanings were attached to them) or distinct purpose lasted for a few thousand years. A pit at the start of the Neolithic might "mean" something completely different to a pit the same size and shape in exactly the same place in the Late Neolithic.

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