• Walking through time: a window onto the prehistory of the Yorkshire Dales through multi-method, non-standard survey approaches

      Armit, Ian; Gaffney, Christopher F.; Saunders, Mary K. (University of BradfordSchool of Archaeological Sciences, Faculty of Life Sciences, 2017)
      Walking through time: a window onto the prehistory of the Yorkshire Dales through multi-method, non-standard survey approaches Keywords: Yorkshire Dales, prehistory, veneration, natural places, geophysical survey, walkover survey, field-system, clearance, land tenure The large-scale field-systems, ubiquitous across upland and marginal parts of the Yorkshire Dales, are insecurely dated and poorly understood. Apart from some sporadic academic interest, the archaeology of this region has yet to receive the level of scholarly attention it deserves. The research presented here involved an intensive investigation of an area near Grassington, Upper Wharfedale, UK. Detailed field analysis revealed a section of one of these field-systems to be only a single element in a complex, multi-layered prehistoric landscape, which it is proposed may have roots as far back as the early Neolithic. Contextualisation of the survey area against palynological data, radiocarbon dates and comparative material moves the date of inception of the field-systems back to the middle Bronze Age, some 1000 years earlier than is currently assumed. The combination of empirical data and theoretical ideas has allowed a relative chronology to be determined in the survey area, together with the creation of a testable hypothesis surrounding the development of Upper Wharfedale and the wider Yorkshire Dales through prehistory. A sense of place and the veneration of natural places are key themes within this landscape and it was possible through these to draw out elements of prehistoric society and to show the evolution of ideas such as land tenure and monument significance. This dual empirical-theoretical approach is novel in upland landscape archaeology in the UK and is shown here to have significant merit.