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The Drowning of a Cornish Prehistoric Landscape (Hardback)

Tradition, Deposition and Social Responses to Sea Level Rise

Ancient History > Prehistory > Bronze Age P&S History > Archaeology > British Archaeology P&S History > Archaeology > Environmental Archaeology & Geoarchaeology

Edited by Michael J. Allen, Edited by Andy M Jones
Imprint: Oxbow Books
Series: Prehistoric Society Research Papers
Pages: 256
Illustrations: B/W and colour
ISBN: 9781789259230
Published: 15th April 2023
Casemate UK Academic



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Between 2018 and 2019, Cornwall Archaeological Unit undertook two projects at Mount’s Bay, Penwith. The first involved the excavation of a Bronze Age barrow and the second, environmental augur core sampling in Marazion Marsh. Both sites lie within an area of coastal hinterland, which has been subject to incursions by rising sea levels. Since the Mesolithic, an area of approximately 1 kilometre in extent between the current shoreline and St Michael’s Mount has been lost to gradually rising sea levels. With current climate change, this process is likely to occur at an increasing rate. Given their proximity, the opportunity was taken to draw the results from the two projects together along with all available existing environmental data from the area.


For the first time, the results from all previous palaeoenvironmental projects in the Mount’s Bay area have been brought together. Evidence for coastal change and sea level rise is discussed and a model for the drowning landscape presented. In addition to modelling the loss of land and describing the environment over time, social responses including the wider context of the Bronze Age barrow and later Bronze Age metalwork deposition in the Mount’s Bay environs are considered. The effects of the gradual loss of land are discussed in terms of how change is perceived, its effects on community resilience, and the construction of social memory and narratives of place.

The volume presents the potential for nationally significant environmental data to survive, which demonstrates the long-term effects of climate change and rising sea levels, and peoples’ responses to these over time.

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About Michael J. Allen

Michael J. Allen is proprietor of AEA Allen Environmental Archaeology and is one of the UK’s leading environmental archaeologists, specialising in geoarchaeology (particularly the analysis of hillwash and colluvium), land snail analysis, prehistoric landscape reconstruction and the management of environmental archaeological projects.

About Andy M Jones

Andy M. Jones is Projects Manager at Cornwall Archaeological Unit. His research interests include the Neolithic and Bronze Age of western Britain. Major publications include: Preserved in the Peat: An Extraordinary Bronze Age Burial on Whitehorse Hill, Dartmoor, and its Wider Context (2016) and Later Prehistoric Settlement in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly: Evidence from Five Excavations (2021).

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