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North Sea ArchaeologiesA Maritime Biography, 10,000 BC - AD 1500$
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Robert Van de Noort

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199566204

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199566204.001.0001

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Moving across the North Sea

Moving across the North Sea

7 Moving across the North Sea
North Sea Archaeologies

Robert Van de Noort

Oxford University Press

Movements between different lands around the North Sea have always been taking place. While the North Sea was evolving gradually, over the millennia, following the melting of the Devensian ice sheet, close contacts across what remained of the North Sea Plain never ceased, as evidenced by near-parallel developments of the Maglemosian-type tools in southern Scandinavia and Britain (Clark 1936), and by particular practices such as the deliberate deposition of barbed points (see chapter 3). Connections across the North Sea throughout the Mesolithic and the beginning of the Neolithic would have been made easier because of the number of islands surviving within the rising sea. The polished axes from Dogger Bank and Brown Bank either represent human presence on these islands in the early Neolithic or else indicate that the existence of these islands sometime in the pre-Neolithic past was embedded in the social memory of later periods. Both possibilities emphasize the fact that the North Sea was a knowable and visited place. Movements across the North Sea took various forms: as exchange between elites from different regions of exotic or ‘prestige’ goods, and possibly of marriage partners; as trade in both luxury and bulk commodities; and in the transfer of people, in some cases as individuals such as pilgrims and missionaries, and in other cases as groups of pirates or as part of larger-scale migrations. Over time, connectedness across the North Sea changed both in nature and in intensity; this was due in no small part to changes in the nature of the craft available. An outline of the movement of goods from the Neolithic through to the end of the Middle Ages illustrates this. Contacts across the North Sea for the Neolithic and the Bronze Age are demonstrated in the long-distance exchange of exotic objects and artefacts, including Beaker pottery, jewellery, or other adornments of gold, amber, faience, jet, and tin; also copper and bronze weapons and tools, and flint daggers, arrowheads, and wrist guards (e.g. Butler, 1963; O’Connor, 1980; Bradley 1984; Clarke, Cowie, and Foxon 1985).

Keywords:   Achnacreebaeg, Ballygowan, Caldicot, Danelaw, East Anglia, Finland, Gildas, Haithabu, Iberia, Kapel Avezaath

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