Author: Rebecca Scott
Publisher: Prehistoric Society Research P
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The current geography of north-west Europe, from the perspective of long term Pleistocene climate change, is temporary. The seaways that separate southern Britain from northern France comprise a flooded landscape open to occupation by hunter-gatherers for large parts of the 0.5 million years since the English Channel's formation. While much of this record is now inaccessible to systematic archaeological investigation it is critical that we consider past human societies in the region in terms of access to, inhabitation in, and exploitation of this landscape. This latest volume of the acclaimed Prehistoric Society Research Papers provides a starting point for approaching the Middle Palaeolithic record of the English Channel region and considering the ecological opportunities and behavioural constraints this landscape offered to Neanderthal groups in north-west Europe. The volume reviews the Middle Palaeolithic archaeological record along the fringes of La Manche in northern France and southern Britain. It examines this record in light of recent advances in quaternary stratigraphy, science-based dating, and palaeoecology and explores how Palaeolithic archaeology in the region has developed in an interdisciplinary way to transform our understanding of Neanderthal behaviour. Focusing in detail on a particular sub-region of this landscape, the Normano-Breton Gulf, the volume presents the results of recent research focused on exceptionally productive coastal capture points for Neanderthal archaeology. In turn the long-term behavioural record of La Cotte de St Brelade is presented and explored, offering a key to changing Neanderthal behaviour. Aspects of movement into and through these landscape, changing technological and raw material procurement strategies, hunting patterns and site structures are presented as accessible behaviours which change at site and landscape scales in response to changing climate, sea level and ecology over the last 250,000 years.