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

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

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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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Excavations at Blick Mead and its adjacent terrace have revealed substantial Mesolithic deposits and provide evidence for the people who built the first monuments on the Stonehenge knoll and the first Mesolithic residential and activity area to be discovered within the Stonehenge World Heritage Site. A radiocarbon date sequence from the latter brings the transition from Mesolithic to Neolithic culture in the area into question for the first time. Further finds hint at Blick Mead being part of the wider Stonehenge ceremonial ritual complex in the Late Neolithic.

The radiocarbon sequence is accompanied by multiproxy isotopic analysis, using carbon, oxygen and nitrogen isotopic values to explore the diet and mobility of some of the animals that occupied this landscape. The use of emerging analytical techniques (ZooMS) to identify small and otherwise unrecognisable zooarchaeological remains from Blick Mead using Mass Spectrometry has contributed to the development of this discipline, which we hope will be of benefit to future prehistoric studies.

The discoveries at Blick Mead potentially transform our understanding of the pre-Stonehenge landscape and the establishment of its later ritual character. This book details the landscape history of the Blick Mead site and the discoveries made during the excavations and post-excavation work, and concludes with a review of the site and its wider significance to the Stonehenge World Heritage Site.

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