The Drowning of a Cornish Prehistoric Landscape: Tradition, deposition, and social responses to sea level rise


Mount’s Bay, west Cornwall, hosts a major drowned landscape. This attractive and well-produced monograph successfully integrates results of the excavation of a Bronze Age enclosure barrow, east of Penzance in the littoral zone, with excellent geoarchaeological data sampled from nearby Marazion Marsh. A longue durée approach is taken to examine how prehistoric communities responded to major land loss: the drowning of more than 20km2 of land included two freshwater rivers that disappeared over thousands of years. Meditations on social responses to this tale of land-loss and dramatic environmental change run as a narrative thread throughout, and various themes are explored: social resilience, persistent places, marked social practices (particularly the deposition of late Bronze Age metalwork) in locale, and place-making. It is ambitious in scope, as the subtitle suggests, providing food for thought on not only the fragility of our coastlines but also their potential as rich repositories of knowledge. 

Andy M Jones and Michael J Allen 
Oxbow Books, £35 
ISBN 978-1789259230 

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