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1. PALAEOLITHIC (c.950 kya[1]-c.9500 cal BC[2]): RESEARCH AGENDA#

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Click here to see strategies recommended for addressing agenda themes and topics for this period.
1.1 Archaeological Period 1: Cromerian and Intra-Anglian (c.950-450 kya[1])
  1. What may analyses of artefact assemblages contribute to studies of the material culture of the earliest colonisers of western Doggerland?
  2. From how early may this material date?
  3. Where is pre-Anglian material found, and what may we deduce from its distribution about the routes of movement of early colonisers (e.g. along the Bytham River and ancestral routes of the Trent)?
  4. Can we detect traces of intra-Anglian activity within the region, and in particular how should we interpret rare finds of artefacts associated with Anglian outwash and till?
  5. Can we define more closely the distribution of sediments likely to yield traces of Period 1 activity and organic remains (notably those relating to the River Bytham and precursors of the Trent and Witham)?

1.2 Archaeological Periods 2 and 3: Pre-Levallois (c.450-250 kya) and Levallois (c.250-150 kya) Lower Palaeolithic

  1. Can we locate convincing evidence for Period 2 activity in the region?
  2. Can we elucidate the distribution, topographic location, character and date of Period 3 material, especially in sealed contexts in terraces?
  3. What is the range and variability of Levallois (prepared core) technology within the region, and what may East Midlands assemblages contribute to studies of the development of this technique?
  4. What is the composition of Lower Palaeolithic assemblages of non-Levallois/Levallois type within the region, and how might this have changed over time?

1.3 Archaeological Period 4: Mousterian (c. 60-40 kya)

  1. How can we locate additional caves and open-air sites with evidence for Mousterian activity?
  2. How might caves and open-air sites have been related?
  3. Can we refine by radiocarbon dating the chronology of Mousterian sites and key artefact types (e.g. bout coupé axes)?
  4. Can we characterise more precisely the extant artefact collections from the region?
  5. What may artefact analyses contribute to studies of relationships between Mousterian hunter-gatherer communities?

1.4 Archaeological Period 5: Early (c.40-27 kya) and Late (c.13,000-9500 cal BC) Upper Palaeolithic

  1. How may studies of East Midlands sites contribute to testing and dating of the proposed EUP and LUP cultural succession?
  2. How may studies of artefact typologies and raw materials contribute to our understanding of patterns of hunter-gatherer mobility?
  3. What was the relationship between caves and open-air sites, and may we discern differences in artefact typologies?
  4. How were EUP and LUP sites distributed across the landscape, and what contrasts may be observed with earlier and later (Mesolithic) periods?
  5. What may artefact analyses contribute to studies of relationships between groups across Doggerland and of regional cultural traditions?
  6. Can work at sites such as Creswell Crags elucidate the chronology of the recolonisation of western Doggerland after the Late Glacial Maximum?
  7. May further important examples of Palaeolithic artwork be preserved in caves of the Magnesian Limestone or elsewhere?
  8. How may lithic technology and typology have changed at the Terminal Palaeolithic-Mesolithic transition and what may this signify culturally?

1.5 Pleistocene environmental change

  1. Can we shed further light upon the development of the pre-Anglian river systems that may have served as corridors of movement for the earliest hominines (especially the Bytham River and precursors of the Trent)?
  2. How may studies of fauna, pollen and other organic material from palaeochannels, caves, terrace sediments and other deposits refine our understanding of the evolving environment, and how may this have varied spatially?
  3. Where are resources for the identification, recording and study of organic remains best targeted?

1.6 General themes

  1. How best may we extend and enhance regional fieldwalking or test-pitting programmes as means of prospecting for open-air sites?
  2. How can we enhance the Historic Environment Record dataset for study of the Palaeolithic period?
  3. How can we elucidate further the archaeological potential of the submerged landscapes of Doggerland?
  4. How can we ensure that resources are focused upon monitoring quarries with the highest potential for unearthing Pleistocene cultural and environmental remains?
  5. How can we maximise the research yield of Pleistocene sites investigated during developer-funded work?

Dating conventions (see Chapter 3; also McNabb, J 2006. The Palaeolithic, in The Archaeology of the East Midlands, 13-17):

  • [#1] kya: thousand years ago
  • [#2] cal BC: calibrated years BC

Return to Agenda Themes and Topics by period Go to the Top of the Page Continue to Mesolithic


Trent & Peak Archaeology
Site/Project Name
A & E Heritage Rescue
County/Unitary Authority
SK 515 338.
Report and Web Link
Carver, G 2014 'A & E Heritage Rescue: Community Research Project at the Attenborough Nature Reserve, Nottinghamshire'. Unpublished TPA report no. 103/2014; http://www.tparchaeology.co.uk/projects.htm

Agenda Topic(s)

  • 1.2.1 Can we locate convincing evidence for Period 2 activity in the region?
  • 1.3.4 Can we characterise more precisely the extant artefact collections from the region?

Research Objective(s)

  • 1B Test the hypothesis that hominines may have been absent from the East Midlands during Period 2 (Pre-Levallois Lower Palaeolithic)
  • 1C Confirm the extent and nature of early hominin activity during Period 4 (Mousterian)

How has this work addressed the Research Agenda and Strategy?

A & E Heritage Rescue is a community research project investigating the historic environment of Attenborough and its context within the Erewash valley, in particular the former aggregates landscape of the Attenborough Nature Reserve. The study used desk-based research techniques to characterise the historic development of the area from the Palaeolithic to Post-Medieval periods. Historic Environment Record data, historic maps, aerial photography and LiDAR survey were considered in conjunction with aggregates extraction plans, secondary sources, and museum collections and accession records. One of the main aims of the project was to create an inventory of artefacts provenanced from Attenborough. The work was completed in March to September 2014 by TPA and the A & E (Attenborough & Erewash) Heritage Explorers volunteers group.

Assessment and cataloguing of recorded Palaeolithic finds identified three hand axes potentially dating to the Acheulian/pre-Levallois Lower Palaeolithic, all provenanced from the gravel pits. These were considered to be of potential significance given the current debate regarding the extent of hominid activity in the East Midlands during the pre-Levallois Lower Palaeolithic (Agenda Theme 1.2.1, Research Objective 1B). However only one of these axes was successfully located during this project, and the identification of this particular axe as Lower Palaeolithic is uncertain (Carver 2014, 35). Evidence for the Lower Palaeolithic therefore remains elusive at least until the other two axes are located.

Also identified were quartzite implements found at Attenborough Gravels during the 1930s were described by A L Armstrong as 'possibly Mousterian'. This led to Attenborough's inclusion in Roe's 1968 'Gazetteer of British Lower and Middle Palaeolithic Sites', although no additional examination of these objects was undertaken for that assessment. If true, the objects would present a rare example of Mousterian technology in the East Midlands and would address Research Objective 1C and Agenda Topic 1.3.4. Unfortunately, however, the current location of these items could not be established.

Mammoth teeth, bones, and tusks were also discovered during quarrying at Attenborough, and many of the teeth and bones are now stored at the University of Nottingham Museum.

--Tina Roushannafas, 12-Feb-2018 12:08

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  This page (revision-191) was last changed on 12-Feb-2018 12:15 by Tina Roushannafas