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Blick Mead: Exploring the 'first place' in the Stonehenge landscape

Archaeological excavations at Blick Mead, Amesbury, Wiltshire 2005–2016

Series:

David Jacques, Tom Phillips and Tom Lyons

Edited By David Jacques

The Stonehenge landscape is one of the most famous prehistoric places in the world, but much about its origins remains a mystery and little attention has been paid to what preceded, and thus may have influenced, its later ritual character. Now, the discovery of a uniquely long-lived Mesolithic occupation site at Blick Mead, just 2km from Stonehenge, with a detailed radio carbon date sequence ranging from the 8th to the late 5th millennium BC, is set to transform this situation.  

This book charts the story of the Blick Mead excavations, from the project’s local community-based origins to a multi-university research project using the latest cutting-edge technology to address important new questions about the origins of the Stonehenge landscape. Led by the University of Buckingham, the project continues to retain the community of Amesbury at its heart. The investigations are ongoing but due to the immense interest in, and significance of the site, this publication seeks to present the details of and thoughts on the findings to date.

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Chapter 7: Discussion (David Jacques)

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CHAPTER 7

Discussion

– David Jacques

As Mayor of Amesbury in 2011–2012 I was humbled to be a ‘hands on’ witness to the discovery of Blick Mead and saw that it could become the catalyst needed for Amesbury to rebrand itself. A museum is planned for the town now and we hope it will be an alternative point of attention to Stonehenge. I am indebted, we all are, to Blick Mead for the way it has brought our community together and regenerated our town. We are not in the shadow of Stonehenge anymore!

— ANDY RHIND-TUTT, Mayor of Amesbury, 2011–2012

Blick Mead and the terrace site provoke a number of fundamental questions: i) why was this locale a ‘persistent place’ for nearly 4,000 years during the Mesolithic period?; ii) what was its relationship with other Mesolithic sites in the vicinity?; iii) is there any evidence for it being a Mesolithic–Neolithic transitional place?; and iv) is there any evidence for the establishment of the Neolithic ritual landscape of Stonehenge being in part a response to Earlier Mesolithic activity?

Ascertaining what was advantageous for people and animals in terms of the environment at Blick Mead is a useful way to approach the first question. Richard Bradley, for example, has argued that natural places which were long-term foci for particular activities had qualities that distinguished them from other locations (Bradley 2000, 97–115). The observations that...

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