Accepted Papers:

Somewhere beyond the sea: modelling contact across the Irish Sea in the late Mesolithic and early Neolithic  


Vicki Cummings (UCLan)
Gary Robinson (Bangor University)

Paper Short Abstract:

This paper will consider contact between Kintyre and the rest of the Irish Sea zone in the Mesolithic and Neolithic, thinking critically about the ways in which people moved around and engaged with landscapes and seascapes.

Paper long abstract:

Traditional considerations of interactions across the Irish Sea in early prehistory suggest that people were not in contact in the late Mesolithic, evidenced by different lithic styles in Britain and Ireland. By the early Neolithic, however, there is clear evidence of contact, with shared monument forms and material culture, and the movement of specific resources across the sea. In this paper we want to critically reconsider this approach to the late Mesolithic and early Neolithic, and instead emphasise the experience of living in this particular part of the world. We will discuss new fieldwork being conducted in Kintyre, the closest point between Britain and Ireland, and suggest some alternatives to the traditional interpretation of contact at this time. In particular we will highlight how the sea should not be considered as separate from the landscapes either side of it, and that it enabled contact instead of restricting it. We want to think critically about what 'contact' may have involved, using our own experiences of working in Kintyre as a starting point. We will suggest how and where people may have moved across the sea at this time, and identify how this can be demonstrated through targeted archaeological fieldwork. We also wish to discuss the idea that people expressed their identities in different ways. We hope this mixture of more nuanced theoretical approaches to landscape and seascape, in combination with new archaeological fieldwork, can offer some new ways of thinking about the land and sea and contact at this time.

panel P27
Seascape: anthropological and archaeological approaches to the human habitation of the sea