1.0 Introduction

Landscape archaeology has been the focus of considerable recent theoretical debate (e.g. Tilley 1994; Ashmore and Knapp 1999). The importance of understanding human engagement with landscapes has been recognised. Monuments are no longer reduced todots on a map, but considered as part of locales in which they were created, perceived, modified, and sometimes destroyed.

The methodologies through which we can investigate prehistoric landscapes remain under-developed. Tilley has sought to understand how landscapes were experienced through his perambulations around the British countryside (1994). Tilley assumes that his bodily experience of a landscape is the same as that of a person in prehistory. This is clearly problematic (Brück 1998).When a landscape has been radically altered since the prehistoric period being studied, as is the case in the Carnac area of Brittany, the problems which are encountered while attempting to experience the landscape are even greater.

The second problem with such phenomenological approaches is the complete subjectivity involved. Although supported in part by photographs, Tilley presents an entirely subjective description of the landscapes he studied, and it is difficult for others to assess such writing (Bradley 2000). Critiques such as Fleming (1999) and Cummings et al. (2002) have highlighted this problem. There are two possible approaches to the problem of the inherent subjectivity of archaeological research. One is to provide as much information as possible (e.g. Brophy 2000). The alternative is to provide the necessary data for others to be able to evaluate the research presented, and enable them, at least partially, to experience the landscape for themselves.

This article considers how the integrated use of a variety of digital approaches can help overcome the limitations imposed by modern land use and enable insight to be gained into Neolithic landscape contexts of the Carnac monuments. GIS visibility analysis provides a quantitative indicator of visual characteristics. This is then complemented with not only a visualisation chosen by the authors, but also a VRML model which enables you, the reader, to consider the interpretations offered and investigate this landscape further.


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Last updated: Thur Nov 11 2004