Formation, Use and Chronology of Celtic Fields: New Perspectives from the Groningen Celtic Field Research Programme

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Targeted excavations of Dutch Celtic fields (Dutch: raatakkers) have yielded much-needed data on the ways in which Celtic fields developed and were used over time. This type of later prehistoric field system is common to gently undulating upland landscapes consisting of Saalian and Weichselian deposits, which were frequently affected by podzolisation. As direct dating of the use-period of Celtic fields is difficult, the Groningen Celtic field research programme employs combined archaeological, AMS- and OSL-dating of bank sediments. Using such dates, use-histories starting in the Middle Bronze Age and lasting well into the Roman era could be shown. Detailed palaeo-botanical analyses of bank sediments suggest that soil and plants from wetland parts were taken to settlements to be used as byre-bedding, after which they were enriched with household refuse (sherds, ash, charcoal) and carted-off to the fields to be used as manure. The locations of such settlements remain difficult to establish, as the chronological relations between settlement features and locations of banks are often unclear. Moreover, despite the fact that botanical macro-remains and pollen inform us on the types of crops cultivated, details of (changes in) the agricultural cycles still escape us.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEurope’s Early Fieldscapes
Subtitle of host publicationArchaeologies of Prehistoric Land Allotment
EditorsS. Arnoldussen, M. Løvschal, R. Johnston
Place of PublicationCham
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-71652-3
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-71654-7, 978-3-030-71651-6
Publication statusPublished - 7-Oct-2021

Publication series

NameThemes in contemporary archaeology
ISSN (Print)2730-7441
ISSN (Electronic)2730-745X


  • Sustainable agriculture

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