Bournemouth University

School of Conservation Sciences

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Is there a British Chalcolithic?

People, Place and Polity in the later Third Millenium BC

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Is there a British Chalcolithic?


School of Conservation Sciences, Bournemouth University, Bournemouth, Dorset

A major international conference organised by the Prehistoric Society and Bournemouth University Centre for Archaeology, Anthropology and Heritage

This conference will address the concept of the Chalcolithic in British archaeology. Our continental colleagues have long used the term to augment their three-age system. Why has the term not been adopted so universally in Britain and Ireland? Is it relevant to our islands? Or is it a misnomer?

The conference will discuss the British Chalcolithic in terms of society and culture and to compare this with our European parallels. Questions to address might be: why don’t we use the term ‘Chalcolithic’ in the UK? Is there a distinctive Chalcolithic ‘package’ incorporating more than just a bunch of objects, i.e. cultural traits, social organisation and monumentality? Or is it just a question of semantics? This conference is intended to be about people, and social context, seeing the bigger picture than individual sites or objects.

The speakers will define and characterise artefacts assemblages, cultural identities and monumental activity and examine the presence, character or absence of a distinct Chalcolithic in British and Irish prehistory. Is the Chaloclithic synonymous with the Beaker phase? What is the Chalcolithic period, and what characteristics define it?

Schedule of Events

Friday 18th April
1730 Registration and wine reception
1830 Keynote Introduction: Dr Ben Roberts, British Museum: To what extent can we refer to a British Chalcolithic? (Click here for Abstract)
1930 Retire to conference bar

Saturday 19th April
0900 Registration
1000 Welcome by Professor Timothy Darvill, Bournemouth University
1010 Introduction, Dr Mike Allen, Prehistoric Society

Session 1: What is the British Chalcolithic?
1025 Alison Sheridan: A Rumsfeld Reality Check: what we know, what we don’t know and what we don’t know we don’t know (Click here for Abstract)
1105 Tea/coffee
1130 Ian Shepherd: Searching in the North (Click here for Abstract)
1200 Jo Bruck and Neil Carlin: Searching for the Chalcolithic: continuity and change in the Irish Final Neolithic/Early Bronze Age (Click here for Abstract)
1230 Discussion
1300 Lunch

Session 2: European context for a ‘Chalcolithic’ in Britain and Ireland
1400 Martin Bartelheim: Sense and non-sense of the term ‘Chalcolithic’ (Click here for Abstract)
1430 Marc van der Linden: The importance of being insular: British Isles in the context of continental north-western Europe during the 3rd millennium BC (Click here for Abstract)
1500 Volker Heyd: Chalcolithisation of North-Western Europe? A perspective from the continent…(Click here for Abstract)
1530 Tea/coffee
1600 William O’Brien: Metal supply and social relations in the Irish Chalcolithic
1630 Discussion
1715 Retire to conference bar

Sunday 20th April
0900 Registration

Session 3: Social contexts
0930 Harry Fokkens: Ideal ancestors? Beaker problems as seen from the Lower Rhine (Click here for Abstract)
1000 Ros Cleal and Josh Pollard: Monuments and material culture: burial and other practices in the third quarter of the third millennium BC in Wessex
1030 Ann Woodward: Grave goods; materials craftsmanship and social function (Click here for Abstract)
1100 Tea/coffee

Session 4: People and place
1130 Paul Garwood: The present dead: the making of past and future landscapes in the British ‘Chalcolithic (Click here for Abstract)
1200 Mandy Jay: The Beaker Isotope Project: the evidence for diet, environment and economy from organic skeletal analyses (Click here for Abstract)
1230 Discussion
1300 Lunch

Session 5: Society, Settlement and Monuments
1400 Mike Parker Pearson: The Chalcolithic at Durrington Walls (Click here for Abstract)
1430 Frances Healy: Chronology, corpses, copper and lithics (Click here for Abstract)
1500 Stuart Needham Keynote lecture: Magnetic monuments meet mysterious metal – the British Chalcolithic: clash of cultures or meeting of minds? (Click here for Abstract)
1530 Discussion
1600 Anticipated close of conference.