Reconstructing a Neolithic Trackway. Step 1: Recruiting for prehistoric builders

By Ben Gearey

On a rather damp Remembrance Sunday, myself, Henry Chapman and Mark Griffiths met up on Hatfield Moors, which is part of the Humberhead Peatlands National Nature Reserve, to mark the opening of its new Reserve Base and LIFE Lab. Alongside this, we were there to take part in the ‘Trackway through time’ launch event organised by the IoAHC which marks the start of a project that will create a replica of the 4,500 year old Hatfield Neolithic trackway (click here to find out more about the excavation of the original).

 

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The open day had a ‘Neolithic theme’ and included James Dilley of Ancient Craft, with Consuming Prehistory also in attendance with their pop-up shop ‘Stonehengeburys’ along with Dr Kirsty High and her rather impressive (if slightly unsettling…) ‘bogbody in a box’! 

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The Chemistry of a Bog Body

The plan for 2019, with the assistance and involvement of the local community, is to build a replica of the trackway and we were looking for volunteers at the open day! The building project is being led by Mark Griffiths who is the woodworker on our Pallasboy Project which has been exploring the process of crafting of prehistoric wooden artefacts; this is to be his biggest challenge to date.

We had been provided with a pile of pine logs and several replica Neolithic axes to allow Mark to get a feel for these tools. It was not long before we had some willing volunteers; one young boy was determined to chop his way through one of the logs and worked away until he had achieved his goal! It was remarkable that some of the children seemed to be natural woodworkers, handling the replica Neolithic tools with assurance.

We also took the opportunity to discuss the technical and practical aspects of building a 45m long corduroy timber trackway, in particular the surprising number of pine trees that this will require and the projected timeline for the undertaking.

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Mark inspecting the pine poles

The work begins in earnest in January: anyone is interested in getting involved in this unique event is welcome, please contact us for more information or keep an eye on the IoAHC website. We have our first event on the 26th and 27th Jan which is an opportunity to get the training and the skills to become a prehistoric builder. During the 2-day training workshop volunteers will also learn more about the trackway and the Neolithic people who made it. Follow the link below to register for this exciting event.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/experimental-archaeology-becoming-a-stone-age-builder-with-dr-henry-chapman-and-mark-griffiths-2-tickets-53097994531

Have a wonderful holiday season everyone!

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