Travelling for festivals in Stone Age Britain

By Makenzie Katz

Recently, archaeologists carried out an excavation that led to the discovery of the earliest mass-held festivities in Britain.

Dr. Richard Madgwick of Cardiff University’s School of History, Archaeology, and Religion; who led the investigation, stated: “This study demonstrates a scale of movement and level of complexity not previously appreciated.” Madgwick conducted an extensive analysis of 131 different pig bones from four complexes built during the Late Neolithic period, approximately between 3000 and 2500BC. These included the world-renowned monuments Stonehenge and Avebury, which attracted people from regions in Scotland, North East England, and West Wales.

Pigs were a primary food source at these festivities; thus, researchers concluded that it must have been a tradition for attendees of the ceremony to bring local animals with them as contributions to the fete. This, in turn, made pigs a viable indicator when tracing where people ventured from for these feasts.

Results were gathered through isotope analysis; used to identify the chemical signals transmitted by the ingredients digested by animals. This method is beneficial, as it has allowed researchers to ascertain the geographical locations where the pigs were brought up. Dr Madgwick declared that he was most perplexed by, “the efforts that the participants invested in” transporting the pigs across the country.”

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