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Wednesday, 11 November 2015

The Great British Neolithic Picnic Site Project





I'm thinking of putting in for a £1 million grant from the AHRC and assorted other learned institutions, matched of course by the National Geographic, for a project designed to discover the most delightful Neolithic picnic sites in the British Isles.  The project will run for a minimum of five years, and will start with a pioneering study based in Pembrokeshire.  Recruitment of the research team will commence shortly.  Bring your own sandwiches.

Craig Rhosyfelin is a truly delightful site with a nearby babbling brook which has already been examined in detail, and the results will be published shortly.  Picnics (and perhaps even the odd BBQ and rave) have undoubtedly been held here for many thousands of years.  All will be revealed.

But Rhosyfelin is by no means unique.  There are literally scores of other delightful picnic sites, with shadowy dappled woodlands, attractive rocky crags, whispering breezes, echoing birdsong, gushing springs or meandering rivulets.  Here are a few more candidates.




It is known already that many of these sites have prehistoric associations, with hut circles, animal enclosures, fortifications, stone walls, cromlechs and standing stones in the vicinity.   What the new project will seek to demonstrate is that starting in the Mesolithic and continuing through the Neolithic and the Bronze Age, the population of Pembrokeshire was not made up of stupid brutish warring tribes but of highly sophisticated and peaceful people who liked nothing better than a picnic out with the family, in a pleasant spot, maybe accompanied by a spot of fishing or squirrel-catching now and then.

When the details of the project are announced, we expect a veritable flood of applicants.  Holes will be dug occasionally. Film rights are in negotiation.

29 comments:

Myris of Alexandria said...

Put me down for a po'boy sandwich and a mint julip.
I am sure that picnic sites in the Delta area have much to teach us.
Plus I can sing my Showboat(ing) melodies.
This has all the makings of having a Grimme fairy tale ending.
M

BRIAN JOHN said...

Sure, we'll reserve a place for you at the inaugural picnic --= site still to be decided. Grimme fairy tales? That sound ominous. Don't those fairy tales involve terrible retributions being visited upon all the little boys (or other creatures) who have been naughty?

TonyH said...

May we be assured that NO squirrels will be harmed or used as sandwich - fillers during the making of this important project? Neither will they be used as projectiles?

BRIAN JOHN said...

We only have grey squirrels in this area, and since they aren't supposed to be here at all, surely just a little squirrel sandwich now and then would be permitted under the relevant legislation?

Myris of Alexandria said...

But talking of introduced species is homo sapiens sapiens indigenous to the British Isles?
If not, like other grey beings, May we not roast and bring them to this picnic.
Apple stuffed like Magritte.
M

Beeman said...

Fantastic stuff. Glad to see you're deciding to develop your fledgling archaeological career after so many years spent as an amateur. Good luck and remember to read all the basic text books!

BRIAN JOHN said...

I'm rather good at having picnics in remote and beautiful places. Does that count as a qualification?

TonyH said...

"Beeman", are you Professor Evershed of Bristol University, or an associate of his?

Interesting item on the BBC Science page today about early Neolithic bee - keeping. Expect Myris, or his very good friend, knows what I'm talking about. It involves the analysis of food remnants on prehistoric pottery.Expect the tabloids and broadsheets will be buzzing with this.....

Myris of Alexandria said...

It can only be time before it ferments into a mead-ia event.
M



The Bristol work is world class of course.

TonyH said...

Ivy bees, not long ago only in mainland Europe, are now spreading gradually northwards from Southern England, thanks to Climate Change.

e.g. a thriving colony outside Bradford - on Avon swimming pool.

Coming to an ivy wall near you soon..... B careful.

Myris of Alexandria said...

Having trawled through Brum joggers I notice a member of that dept does children's geographies. Perhaps we should combine and submit Silven controls on Ursine alfresco dining.
Large grant mainly for wigs and false beards.
What say you as a fellow geographer.
M

TonyH said...

Myris

That is a thoroughly cryptic comment. Is a translation available?

Tony

Myris of Alexandria said...

If you go down into the woods today...
Brum joggers is the Greater geography dept at the eponymous red brick uni.
The children's geography is perhaps the most bizarre but true.
I was following Brian's desire for academic credence/respectability and grant monies and suggesting a topic that might find favour in Brum joggers.
M

BRIAN JOHN said...

Academic respectability isn't something I desire any longer -- I think that was established rather a long time ago. The fact that some people might not know that is their problem, not mine. Well, good for the Birminghan geographers -- establishing a unit to encourage the teaching of geography at schools, and to find the best ways of communicating enthusiasm, is great. Stories are great, in their place. But what we need on the subject of Neolithic monolith quarries is a great deal less fantasising, not more.

Myris of Alexandria said...

No the great beauty of being a non-grant chasing post-academic is that respectability is an optional extra.
I don't think the brum joggers are doing that I assumed it was the nebulous investigation into how kids perceive the world. In a kinder and older days it was beware of dragons I suspect it is now paedos. Mind you brum joggers has somebody researching Carribean laughter, my experience is it is whenever they fleece a tourist.
I fear this is all becoming a bit post processualist geography.
Science really does stop at the start of the Holocene.
On advice I am changing our grant application to Silven controls on the temporal occurrence of Ursine alfresco dining.
M

Jon Morris said...

Academic respectability isn't something I desire any longer

Involvement in something that has the appearance of being a vanity pursuit isn't something that automatically bestows respectability in wider academia. Outside the discipline, I was informed that anything connected to archaeology, even if it mainly relates to another discipline, should not be submitted for academic review and that any such material would instead be “best suited to a blog”.

It seems to me to be a major academic achievement to get something related to archaeology published in an unrelated discipline's journal.

Geo Cur said...



“what we need on the subject of Neolithic monolith quarries is a great deal less fantasising, not more. “

Quite , maybe a start could be made on just what is entailed in the removal of rocks from an area and who might consider themselves capable of recognising the signs of that removal .
Huge numbers of rocks weighing over two tonnes have been removed from the landscape in the Neolithic and Bronze Age yet the source of the rocks is rarely confirmed , it’s mostly a guess i.e. lifted from the locality or from a local outcrop ,which is perfectly reasonable , but the actual signs of the removal are almost non existent . The only positive achievements we have in this field are from petographers and a small group of French specialists .
Absence of evidence that is not even understood or capable of being recognised is not evidence of absence .
To recognise the absence of stone removal requires knowledge of what constitutes it’s presence ,maybe those who think that they are capable of recognising the absence should get some practice in finding the presence first .

BRIAN JOHN said...

Geo -- your reasoning becomes ever more convoluted. Getting a bit like Donald Rumsfeld. Geologists and geomorphologists have been writing about glacial entrainment, transport and deposition for almost 200 years. There's a vast literature out there, and plenty on this blog. Just look up "glacial erratics" -- and then look up "Occam's Razor".

Evergreen said...

Brian, Geos reasoning is anything but convoluted. It's very simple. You seem to consistently misunderstand his posts, I don't know why. Why have you said 'Geologists and Geomorphologists have been writing about glacial entrainment, transport and deposition for almost 200 years' in response to Geos last post? It's like you are responding to a point you wish he'd made rather than responding to the point that he has made. Not that Geo needs defending of course, this is just my observation.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Geo -- comment dumped. I stopped another thread because I was fed up with this endless rigmarole about the impossibility of arguing against anthropogenic processes because if we don't know what things looked like before then we have nothing to compare with what things look like today, and we therefore might as well assume that our brilliant ancestors took away lots of stones and put them somewhere, because we have no way of proving that they didn't. Negative, inside out, back to front reasoning which is a waste of everybody's time. And I'm fed up with the suggestion that ordinary geomorphologists like me are incapable of picking up the wonderfully subtle signs of anthropogenic processes in the landscape. Please go off and make your valuable contributions to some other blog. I'd rather spend my time looking at hard evidence and assessing it as simply and directly as possible -- even if that involves upsetting a few archaeologists.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Evergreen, that was a perfectly relevant comment of mine, directly on the point. Geo thinks that vast numbers of large stones were carted around the place by our heroic ancestors. I think that very many of them were glacial erratics, picked up and used close to the places where they were found. It's called economy of effort.

Alison Wunderland said...

Brian will now have to spend the rest of the day putting his toys back in the pram ------- 'economy of effort' required.

BRIAN JOHN said...

No no -- the toys are scattered all over the place. One day, when I have the time, I'll get them organized. Some people just have imaginary toys.....

Myris of Alexandria said...

and some of us just have imaginary friends
Was River just wonderful last night. Have been playing 'Cry me a River' all morning.
M
And we thought Scandinavia just gave us Disco ABBA.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Quite so, Myris. Never had time to watch that series -- but I gather it was rather good...... And yes., Scandinavia has indeed given several things to the world....

Evergreen said...

Another comment of mine "gone missing". All posts of mine, of a certain flavour, seem to disappear.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Quite right, Evergreen. I'm fed up with all this nonsense about the significance (or otherwise) of evidence that doesn't exist, or maybe if it does exist, we haven't seen it yet because we are not clever enough. I prefer to deal with evidence which is open to scrutiny. If you want to join Geo by strolling around on other blog sites and pondering on metaphysical matters, feel free. As for this site, I'm the one in charge, and will decide what to post and what to dump. Grumble if you like, but do it elsewhere.

D. Bar said...

My bat, my ball and my wickets once again.
No room for any alternatives with Brian.

BRIAN JOHN said...

There are endless alternatives discussed on this blog, and I have invited and welcomed open discussion on a wide range of topics. However, when certain contributors return over and again to issues that have already been aired at length, my patience occasionally runs out. If you want to check out the contributions made by those individuals in the past, just browse through some earlier threads. I hope you find enlightenment.