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The Role of Stone in Neolithic Monumental Art: case studies and methods of representation in Ireland and Brittany

Guillaume Robin1 and Serge Cassen2

1. PhD student, Laboratoire de Recherches Archéologiques (LARA), Université de Nantes
2. CNRS, UMR 6566, Laboratoire de Recherche Archéologiques (LARA), Université de Nantes

Cite this as: Guillaume Robin and Serge Cassen 2009 'The Role of Stone in Neolithic Monumental Art: case studies and methods of representation in Ireland and Brittany', Internet Archaeology 26. http://dx.doi.org/10.11141/ia.26.27

Summary

In the last few decades, there has been a great deal of interest in the stone used as building material in megalithic monuments. Several studies have been carried out on the location of quarries and on the monumental and symbolic role of stones in various types of architecture (O'Sullivan 1996; 2006; Cooney 2000, 135-8). However, very few works exist on the relationship between the parietal art of these monuments and the materials that carry them (Shee 1973, 164; O'Sullivan 1997, 28). This is in contrast to work on the Upper Palaeolithic, where there have been several studies exploring the links between paintings and the relief of caves (Clottes 1996).

In the case of Neolithic monumental art there are many questions left unanswered; is the stone only a support for the carved motifs? Is its role only practical, without significance? Or did it have a more developed function related to the symbolism of the carvings? In this article, we would like to show through different examples in Ireland and Brittany that the stone did have a role in Neolithic monumental art. Different case studies show that there are relationships between carvings and stone texture, stone colour and stone relief. After the presentation of these case studies we would like to show how three-dimensional modelling can be a relevant tool for this kind of archaeological question.

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