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Going Over: The Mesolithic-Neolithic Transition in North-West Europe$
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Alasdair Whittle and Vicki Cummings

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780197264140

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197264140.001.0001

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Changing places: monuments and the Neolithic transition in western France

Changing places: monuments and the Neolithic transition in western France

(p.243) Changing places: monuments and the Neolithic transition in western France
Going Over: The Mesolithic-Neolithic Transition in North-West Europe

Chris Scarre

British Academy

The suggestion that monuments were not a feature of the initial Neolithic poses anew the question of the Mesolithic contribution to the earliest Neolithic of Atlantic Europe. Put bluntly, are these monuments the consequence of contact and acculturation between incoming farmers and indigenous hunter-gatherers, as was envisaged twenty years ago? If so, what was the nature of the Mesolithic contribution? Was it the forms of the monuments themselves, or did it lie more generally in attitudes to materials, places, and landscape? This chapter suggests that the craggy landscapes of Atlantic Europe may have inspired the construction of megalithic monuments. The new monumentality could as well have been the response of incoming farming communities to these landscapes, however, as a transformation in the behaviour of indigenous foraging groups, who may have envisaged these landscapes in entirely different ways. The landscape beliefs of Mesolithic communities might have played a role in the inception of megaliths, but the scarcity of Mesolithic monuments and the presence of a ‘premonument’ Neolithic suggests that it was the advent of farming groups or farming ideologies that laid the crucial foundations.

Keywords:   Neolithic, Mesolithic, megalithic monuments, farming groups, hunter-gatherers

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