1. Introduction

The material, social, economic and political relationships that formed the sinews of the Atlantic economy have long been recognised as being closely bound, entwined and entangled. Despite contextualizing their studies beneath the broad umbrella of the global economy, archaeologists have tended to keep the two spheres - the former colonies and the metropole - apart (Hicks 2007). Recently, economic historians have, for example, demonstrated how the networks of kinship formed a fundamental structure of trust and inter-reliance through which high-risk early capitalist ventures were nurtured and supported from the early 17th century onwards (e.g. Smith 2006). Similarly, historical geographers have sketched out the networks of slaving interest groups and lobbyists (Lambert 2005; O'Shaughnessy 1997); how families operated portfolios of land and property that stretched from the picturesque landscapes in Britain to plantations in the Caribbean (Seymour et al. 1998), and how the representation of colonial landscapes paralleled established tropes and genres (e.g. Quilley 2003). However, key areas of the Atlantic trade networks remain under-studied by archaeologists, including the trade and kin networks that linked the Caribbean with North America, and those between islands that are too often treated separately (Watters 2001, 93-9). Many of the studies in Britain have followed what has recently been extensively critiqued as an insular research agenda, while much of the work in the Caribbean has been undertaken by archaeologists from North America, with little or no reference back to the metropole. Some have drawn attention to such connections, such as fieldwork on Nevis that drew explicit connections back to Bristol and to the Pinney family of merchants, but no related archaeology was undertaken in the city itself (Leech 2007). As a result, efforts to present the impact of the Atlantic Trade on British landscapes have remained largely confined to the principal ports involved (London, Bristol, and Glasgow e.g. Dresser 2000), despite the fact that colonial wealth permeated the whole country.

In the Caribbean, an extensive body of research has explored a range of topics related to plantation slavery and their cultural landscapes (see summary in Armstrong 2013 and Armstrong and Hauser 2009), providing a base for the exploration and comparison of material culture associated with the enslaved population, both within and between islands (Hauser 2008; 2011; Kelly et al. 2008; Hauser and Armstrong 2012). There is now a wealth of data that has begun to allow comparisons of plantation settlement and material use across the region. An African-Caribbean narrative has also begun to emerge that is not focused on the period of enslavement alone, but pursues instead the creation of positive identities for descendent communities based around the struggle for emancipation and freedom. However, such studies remain largely contained within the Caribbean region, and rarely connect explicitly with the Atlantic Trade, despite their fundamental role in understanding the trade and exploitation prior to emancipation.

The present study, however, offers new approaches to both lines of investigation and has at its heart the relationship between two cultural landscapes linked by the Atlantic Trade. Mount Plantation, Barbados, was chosen explicitly because of its early involvement in the transformation of the island's sugar landscapes and because of its known links through ownership over almost two hundred years to the Lascelles family and Harewood House in Yorkshire, UK (Finch forthcoming). It also offers the first systematic archaeological fieldwork to combine geophysical survey techniques and fieldwalking in the British Caribbean, thus offering results from a methodology that can rapidly assess the archaeological potential of plantation sites without resorting to invasive methods such as shovel test-pitting. A plantation landscape in Barbados, linked through ownership and exploitation to landscapes in Britain, thus demands a global perspective on landscape change and management. Such an approach will therefore re-engage plantation archaeology with global agendas that trace the impact of the Atlantic Trade, but which have an explicit focus on the relationship between distant cultural landscapes.


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