What’s on : Lectures

Later Prehistoric landscapes of the Yorkshire Wolds – Recent Research

14 Jan 2020
Start time
7:30 PM
Tempest Anderson Hall
Dr Peter Halkon, University of Hull

Event Information

“Later Prehistoric landscapes of the Yorkshire Wolds – Recent Research”
Dr Peter Halkon, Senior Lecturer, University of Hull

This will include accounts of excavations on a later Bronze Age/Iron age ring fort near Middleton on the Wolds and fieldwork on a nearby and contemporary but contrasting hilltop site on Nunburnholme Wold. Eastern Yorkshire is famous for its chariot burials, the first of these discovered at Arras, near Market Weighton. The setting of this famous Iron Age cemetery will be placed into its wider context, including the spectacular discoveries from Pocklington.

Dr Halkon has directed award-winning fieldwork, co-run with Professor Martin Millett (Cambridge University) in the Foulness Valley, East Yorkshire, where discoveries included the Iron Age Hasholme logboat, large scale Iron Age iron production sites and Roman settlements. Dr Halkon continues to lead archaeology projects in the region.

Member’s report

East Yorkshire is divided into three landscape types, the Wolds limestone belt that stretches from Hessle to Flamborough Head, the wetlands of the Holderness peninsula and the fertile Vale of York. During the Mesolithic, deep incursions by the sea came inland via the rivers, while modern erosion and rising sea levels continue to alter the coastline. Archaeology shows how these landscapes were managed in prehistoric times.

Aerial photographs reveal huge earthworks, dating from the late Bronze and Early Iron Ages, which once dominated the Wolds. Linear dykes and ditches not only protected settlements from flooding, they enclosed hillforts, animal corrals and ritual sites like cemeteries, and may also have prevented access by others to water sources. The vast scale of these features suggests a well organised, possibly chieftain-led society.

Large cemeteries like that at Arras, near Market Weighton, contained square and round barrows, but also chariot burials. They have also been found in Pocklington and Wetwang. Probably burials of warriors, some barrows contain spears or a shield and even horses. Chariot burials appear to have their origins in northern France: isotope and DNA tests may confirm migration from there.

Carole Smith