Rings of fire and Grooved Ware settlement at West Kennet, Wiltshire

Bayliss, A., Cartwright, C., Cook, G., Griffiths, Seren orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-5168-9897, Madgwick, R., Marshall, P. and Reimer, P. (2017) Rings of fire and Grooved Ware settlement at West Kennet, Wiltshire. In: The Neolithic of Europe: Papers in Honour of Alasdair Whittle. Oxbow Books, Oxford, pp. 249-278. ISBN 978-1-78570-654-7

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Alasdair Whittle has had a career-long interest in the Neolithic of the Avebury area (Fig. 17.1). In the late 1980s and early 1990s he undertook a major research project in the region to investigate the Neolithic sequence and its environment (Whittle 1993). This included a series of excavations of early Neolithic sites including the causewayed enclosure at Windmill Hill (Whittle et al. 1999), the chambered tomb at Millbarrow (Whittle 1994), and an earthen long barrow at Easton Down (Whittle et al. 1993). A series of trenches were also cut through two palisade enclosures at West Kennet (Whittle 1997). This campaign of new excavation was accompanied by research into the archives of previous investigations, particularly the
publication and subsequent dating of Richard Atkinson’s excavation on and within Silbury Hill in 1968–70 (Bayliss et al. 2007a; Whittle 1997) and a reassessment of the date and development of Avebury itself (Pitts and Whittle 1992).
The subsequent decades have seen continued work in the Avebury region, given focus by the Archaeological Research
Agenda for the Avebury World Heritage site (AAHRG 2001). Alasdair himself has been instrumental in producing refined chronologies for the West Kennet long barrow (Bayliss et al. 2007b) and the causewayed enclosures at Windmill Hill and Knap Hill (Whittle et al. 2011, chapter 3), and in producing synthetic narratives of early Neolithic sites in the region and beyond (Whittle et al. 2007; 2011, chapters 14 and 15). Further understanding of the late Neolithic landscape has been gained through research excavations at the Beckhampton Avenue and Longstones Cove and ditched enclosure (Gillings et al. 2008), and through rescue excavations undertaken in advance of consolidation works at Silbury Hill (Leary et al. 2013a).
The latter in particular has done much to improve our understanding of the development and date of Silbury Hill (Marshall et al. 2013; in prep. a; in prep. b), which has been put into context by a recent synthesis of the available scientific dating evidence for the Avebury area by Frances Healy (2016).

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