2.3 Moving forward

It is essential, if we are to attempt to discuss the use of the sea by prehistoric coastal and island communities, that the approaches and themes explored within the complementary fields of landscape archaeology, maritime archaeology and maritime anthropology, are considered alongside one another in accounts of the past. Only by bringing together these fields of research can we provide a rich and meaningful understanding of past engagements with the sea. In order to accomplish this task we must consider a variety of available archaeological resources including the configuration of the prehistoric coastline, the archaeological evidence for boats, the identification of landing places, the evidence for fishing and hunting, and systems of wayfaring. Only by exploring such themes can we begin to understand potential relationships between archaeological sites on land and the prehistoric use of the sea.

Themes identified will be explored and applied to a case study of the Isles of Scilly, Cornwall. The prehistoric archaeological record of Scilly is exceptional, comprising a wide range of monuments and settlements, many of which are unique to the archipelago. The case study will consider how we might apply these ideas to explore an archaeology of the sea and journeys made on it, and how such journeys may be linked to the prehistoric archaeology of this island landscape. Two types of prehistoric sites will be examined in this case study: Bronze Age settlements and Late Neolithic/Early Bronze Age entrance graves. I will argue that the sea, like the land, would have held great significance to people in the past and, while acknowledging the challenges, should be considered in accounts of prehistory.


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