Third Lambarde Lecture in archaeology

The making of the southern British landscape: a prehistorian’s view

When: 6pm Wednesday 26th April

Where: Michael Berry Lecture Theatre, Old Sessions House, Canterbury Christchurch University

FREE and open to ALL

To be given by Professor Tim Champion, University of Southampton:

When did the English landscape take on something like its current appearance? Details of field patterns and settlement organisation may have changed over time, but when did we first see a predominantly open and managed landscape, supporting a permanent economy of mixed arable and pastoral farming? Despite the archaeological and palaeoecological evidence that accumulated in the early twentieth century, the idea of a wild landscape, almost untouched by human activity before the Roman period, survived, notably in the work of Hoskins. Further research, combined with a realisation of the long time-depth of prehistory, focused on the start of the Neolithic, around 4000 BC, as the major social and environmental turning point. Modern research is now making it clear that, at least for the lowland zone of southern and eastern England, the major environmental change took place in the Bronze Age, in the middle of the second millennium BC. The archaeological evidence of large-scale and mostly permanent woodland clearance, producing a cleared and divided landscape, with fields and houses, can be matched by ecological evidence for the extinction of wild animals, or at least their retreat to remote refuges, and the introduction of new species of animals and birds adapted to the emerging arable, grassland and domestic habitats.