Context Of The Creswell

The Pleistocene antiquity of the engravings at Church Hole and Robin Hood Cave is beyond doubt (Pike et al., this volume), and of relevance to this paper a U-series date on the flowstone overlying Church Hole Panel VII (the 'birds') indicates that they have a minimum age of 12,800 (cal) bp. In terms of the archaeology of the Creswell caves and of the UK in general (Jacobi 2004), as well as stylistic similarities with art on the continent, the most plausible cultural attribution of the Creswell art is to Garrod's 'Creswellian', which I hereafter refer to as Final Magdalenian. This places the art into a relatively well-dated cultural context broadly in the first half of the Late Glacial Interstadial, that is, between 13,500 and 15,000 (cal) bp, although it is conceivable that humans arrived immediately prior to the interstadial warming (Jacobi 2004: 73 and this volume). Whatever the precise timing of human arrival in the Creswell region and Britain in general, it took place in the context of a human reoccupation of the Northern European Plain facilitated by the general amelioration of climate subsequent to the Last Glacial Maximum (Housley et al. 1997, 2000; Barton 1999; Barton et al. 2003) which saw a major population dispersal of the Magdalenian, ultimately from an Iberian refugium (Gamble et al. 2004). As such, it would appear that creation of art, at least on occasion, formed part of the cultural repertoire of hunter-gatherer groups that had only just recolonized the Northern European Plain.

The lowered sea levels of the Late Glacial Interstadial exposed considerable areas of land now inundated by the North Sea and English Channel (Fig. 7.14) The taxonomic diversity of faunal remains dredged up by oyster fishermen suggests that the plains of 'Doggerland' as it has been termed (Coles 1998) were rich in herbivorous biomass and perhaps seasonally in migrating birds (ibid. 62). It is easy to see how it might have formed a core area for Magdalenian occupation. Parsimoniously, Doggerland may be assumed to be the source area for populations who periodically exploited the Creswell region (see below). Barton et al. (2003) have noted the concentration of British Final Magdalenian sites at the edges of the upland margins, in this case of the Peaks, a pattern that can be observed on the continent, such as in the Thuringian and Paris Basins and the Swabian Alb. They suggest that the importance of such marginal zones lies in the presence of small-scale topographical variation, the ecotonal nature of which would permit the exploitation of a variety of resources while minimizing the distances travelled. A 'more or less simultaneous occupation of the upland and its margins' (Barton et al. 2003: 638) fits the general Magdalenian pattern well.

The relative abundance of Final Magdalenian archaeology in the Creswell caves (Jacobi, this volume), caves in neighbouring gorges such as Anston (Mellars 1969; Chamberlain, this volume), the Manifold Valley of the Peak District (see below), and smaller open sites in between (e.g. Radley 1964) indicates that Magdalenian hunter-gatherers were operating widely over the East Midlands landscape, at least at certain times of the year. The Final Magdalenian is also relatively well-represented in the Cheddar Gorge region of Somerset as well as by a number of other sites both in the upland margins of the south-west and flat plains of the east coast, suggesting that a number of Magdalenian groups exploited much of England and Wales in this broad period (Jacobi 2004). Why, however, are there relatively few sites in the UK, and why are numbers of materials low relative to contemporary sites on the continent? Although large Creswellian sites presumably remain to be discovered, enough valley bottom and other open sites have been excavated down to sterile sediments to allow a confident statement that large, semi-sedentary aggregation camps such as those on the continent appear to be rare or absent from Britain, with the exception of Farndon Fields some two days' walk from Creswell (Jacobi, this volume). This lack, and the apparent clustering in a relatively tight period of the radiocarbon chronology for the Magdalenian of Britain (Jacobi 2004 and this volume), suggests that visits to the UK were relatively infrequent and/or seasonally constrained.

Given the ubiquitous faunal taxa present in Britain and on the continent during the Late Glacial Interstadial, it was presumably the seasonal availability of certain resources and procurement possibilities that rendered the extreme western periphery of the Magdalenian world periodically attractive. The presumed movements of horse, availability of Arctic hare (Lepus timi-dus) for trapping in spring, and spring reindeer migrations towards upland calving grounds may well have provided the stimulus for such a movement westwards at the time of year that climate was improving. Assuming a hypothetical Magdalenian presence on the plains of Doggerland, that is, under what is now the North Sea, an appropriate trigger for the spring move westwards could have been the reindeer migration. As Creswell and neighbouring gorges would have been crucial 'gateways' between the east and west, such a migration would have brought Magdalenians into the region in time to exploit Arctic hare at the most appropriate time of year to benefit from their food resource and replenish fur clothing, as seems to have occurred at Robin Hood Cave (Charles and Jacobi 1994). Temporarily tracking reindeer might provide a blueprint for spring occupation of this region of Britain at this time.

Although Late Glacial archaeology in several caves of the Manifold Valley in the Southern Peak District seem to attest human activity in the earlier part of the Younger Dryas (Greenland Stadial 1) and thus not in the Late Glacial Interstadial, enough palaeontology and archaeology exist to create a plausible model of reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) calving in the region in the earlier part of the Late Glacial Interstadial and occasional human exploitation of this. In the Creswell region, Late Glacial reindeer are known from Dead Man's Cave at North Anston, Langwith Cave, and Robin Hood Cave, Pin Hole, Church Hole, and possibly Mother Grundy's Parlour at Creswell itself; in addition to a handful of other sites in the region in very low and singular numbers (Mullins 1913; Jenkinson 1984; Armstrong 1956). At Creswell reindeer have been directly dated to the early Late Glacial Interstadial (e.g. Church Hole, OxA-3717, 12020+100; OxA-3718, 12250 + 90; Hedges et al. 1994). At Dead Man's Cave at North Anston near to Creswell, reindeer remains have been dated to the terminal Pleistocene (Mellars 1969), although they were not associated with Final Magdalenian lithics also recovered from the site. The archaeological record of cave, rockshelter, and open sites in the area is testimony to repeated incursions by Final Magdalenians (Jacobi, this volume; Chamberlain, this volume). Further to the west, in and around the Manifold Valley of the Peak District, which straddles North Staffordshire and Derbyshire, reindeer were clearly a major species in the Late Pleistocene. Reindeer remains from Ossom's Cave in the Manifold Valley have been dated to the latter half of the Late Glacial Interstadial and to the Younger Dryas (Scott 1986), suggesting that their presence was seasonally ubiquitous in the Late Pleistocene. The dominance of reindeer in the faunal assemblage of layer C (e.g. Bramwell etal. 1987) and the dominance of calves (Bramwell 1954) probably indicates that the uplands of the southern Peaks were traditional spring reindeer calving grounds. While a number of the remains presumably represent natural accumulations, the bias in skeletal part representation (Scott 1986:74; Bramwell etal. 1987: 32) and high degree of splintering of bones (Bramwell 1954; Scott 1986) may indicate that some of reindeer formed the prey of Late Glacial hunter-gatherers, although it is most probably natural. Whichever is the case, this certainly attests spring calving in the region. Almost all of the reindeer represented by teeth and antlers died at around ten-eleven months of age (Bramwell et al. 1987: 32), suggesting either a high degree of mortality of calves, or that a spring predation on disadvantaged reindeer calves was a routine part of the late Upper Palaeolithic annual round. The high degree of fracturing of reindeer bones at this and neighbouring sites may imply the importance of marrow and hence fat to human populations. Dental eruption and the presence of antler 'first year spikes' from very young animals indicate that the animals died in spring, and Bramwell et al. (1987: 28) concluded that 'the reindeer remains from Layer C very probably represent animals taken in spring as they moved up the Manifold Valley from the Midland Plain to the uplands of the Peak District'. Whether or not humans were partly responsible for the deposition of reindeer remains in Ossom's cave, Layer C yielded forty-three lithic items of which six were modified into tools (Jacobi 1987). Although chronologically undiagnostic, these are not inconsistent with a Late Glacial age for human activity at the site, and the recovery of one backed blade (either a 'Tjonger' point or possibly a federmesser) would seem to indicate that human activity occurred at least in the Late Glacial interstadial and/or the Younger Dryas.

Splintered fragments of reindeer bone are found in other Late Glacial deposits in the southern Peak District, for example, Elder Bush Cave, also in the Manifold Valley, where they are associated with a small number of Late

Glacial lithics (Bramwell 1964). A directly dated cut-marked vertebra of red deer attests human presence at the site at 10600+110 bp (OxA-811, Gowlett et al. 1986) although the sample dated may have been contaminated and the resulting age determination could be an underestimate (Jacobi, pers. comm.). At Dowel Cave, split bones of large ungulates, where identifiable to species, were of reindeer, including antler tips and split phalanges, and were apparently associated with hearth charcoal (Bramwell 1959). A broken fragment of an antler sagaie from the site indicates that humans were present at least in the second half of the Late Glacial Interstadial (OxA-1463, 11200+ 120 BP, Hedges etal. 1989). In Layer D of Fox Hole Cave, Derbyshire, a small number ofFinal Magdalenian lithics including a shouldered point were found in association with two bevelled reindeer antler javelin fore-shafts in an activity area apparently structured around a hearth and containing the remains of horse (Equus sp.), large bovid, and reindeer (Bramwell 1971). Direct dates on each of the fore-shafts indicate a Late Glacial Interstadial age (OxA-1493, 11970+120; OxA-1494, 12000+120, Hedges etal. 1989). Many of the faunal remains were splintered, and the reindeer material apparently included a cut-marked metatarsal (Bramwell 1975). Although without indications of human predation, Late Glacial reindeer remains have also been recovered from Darfur Ridge Cave, in association with unidentifiable split bones (Nicholson 1966).

The hypothetical spring and autumn migration of reindeer on the east-west axis through the crags and the importance of arctic hare to the Magda-lenians which is relatively easy to obtain in spring (Charles and Jacobi 1994) suggests that the crags and surrounding region were important at this time of year to Magdalenians presumably operating further to the east or south over other seasons. This is not to deny the importance of horse, whose presence is attested in the Late Glacial at Creswell (e.g. directly dated at Mother Grundy's Parlour; OxA-3398, 12280+110; OxA-3400, 12340+110; OxA-4102, 12540 + 140, Hedges et al. 1994), and in the Manifold Valley and surrounding region (e.g. Fox Hole Cave OxA-6310, 11920 + 130; OxA-6311, 12030 + 90; OxA-6312, 10980 + 90; Ossom's Cave, OxA-6316, 10920 + 90, Kaagan 2000). The recovery of the worked Baltic amber (presumably obtained at the coast, i.e. to the north) and the similarity of aspects of the Creswell art to that further to the east and south further strengthens the picture of movement and cultural interconnectedness with the continent. The picture, however, is further complicated by the apparently south-western source for the flint, at least from Robin Hood Cave (Jacobi, this volume), which suggests highly mobile and complex landscape use by regional Magdalenian groups.

Within the Crags itself, it is interesting that, with the exception of the 'vulva' on the wall of Robin Hood Cave, all of the Magdalenian art is on the walls of Church Hole Cave. While actual numbers of Magdalenian artefacts obtained in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century excavations is understandably difficult to reconstruct with confidence, enough information survives to indicate that Magdalenian archaeology was most strongly preserved in Robin Hood Cave, Pin Hole, and Mother Grundy's Parlour, while the Late Glacial archaeology of Church Hole was relatively impoverished. Jacobi (this volume) has used the most reliable assessment of the relative abundance of Late Upper Palaeolithic backed pieces, and shown that the majority of examples come from Mother Grundy's Parlour (~57) and Robin Hood Cave (~40), with ~17 from Pin Hole. By contrast the figure for Church Hole is only four. Given that backed pieces appear to dominate Late Glacial tool counts from caves, one can probably confidently take the frequencies of these tool forms as a broad proxy for the deposition of lithic waste in general. If this is so, it indicates that Final Magdalenian activity in Church Hole Cave was less frequent than in the caves of the north side of the gorge. While this can probably be explained simply by the fact that the south-facing caves of the north side of the gorge receive more sunlight and were generally more pleasant camp locales (Jacobi, this volume), the question remains as to why almost all of the preserved art comes from Church Hole, which one would not expect if the situation were totally 'prosaic'. It is a fair assumption that the art was there for a purpose, even if that purpose is now unknown to us. If the art were simply decoration of the walls of a gloomy cave used as a temporary camp, it is surprising that art does not survive on the walls of other caves in the same gorge, with similar taphonomic histories and indications of greater human activity. It is tempting to suggest that a conceptual difference existed in the Magdalenian mind between the caves of the north side of the gorge which may have been viewed more as 'prosaic' camps, and Church Hole in the south side, with perhaps more cosmological connotations. An appropriate analogy—and broadly contemporary—is the caves of La Vache and Niaux, which face each other from opposite sides of the valley of the Vicdessos river in Ariege. While Niaux has a rich Magdalenian cave art it contained very poor archaeology, and La Vache by contrast has a rich Mag-dalenian archaeology including numerous examples of art mobilier but no parietal art (Bahn 1983 and pers. comm.). If correct, these examples could indicate that Final Magdalenians at least physically encultured the wider landscape. Furthermore, Jacobi (this volume) has noted that Church Hole appears to have archaeology dating only to the earlier part of the Late Glacial Interstadial whereas Robin Hood Cave and Mother Grundy's Parlour contained archaeology from both earlier and later parts. He speculates that perhaps the presence of parietal art from the early Late Glacial Interstadial somehow mitigated against subsequent 'prosaic' use of the cave. If this were so, it would be a strong example of the conceptual importance of art in Magdalenian society.

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