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A gateway island: An exploration of evidence for the existence of a cultural focus in the form of a ‘gateway community’ in the Isle of Thanet during the Bronze age and early and middle Iron ages

Perkins, DRJ; (2000) A gateway island: An exploration of evidence for the existence of a cultural focus in the form of a ‘gateway community’ in the Isle of Thanet during the Bronze age and early and middle Iron ages. Doctoral thesis , University of London. Green open access

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Abstract

The research for this study was originally prompted by the writer's discovery that the Isle of Thanet in East Kent possessed and continues to yield evidence of prehistoric settlement and trade inordinate for the size of the Island. Thanet comprises only 2.2% of the area of Kent, yet in several fields of evidence such as prehistoric settlements, barrow cemeteries, bronze hoards and prestige imported artefacts, Thanet provides a large fraction, often over 30%, of the County's total of such evidence. A possible explanation for this phenomenon was that the Island, commanding passage of the one-time Wantsum sea channel, had supported a 'Gateway Community' as defined by Hirth in `Interregional trade and the formation of prehistoric gateway communities' (Hirth, K.G., 1978, Am. Ant. 43). For much of the last two millennia of prehistory, limitations in the design of sea¬going trading vessels would have largely confined English Channel crossings to the narrows of the Dover Strait area, and would have precluded rounding of the North Foreland. Under these constraints the Wantsum Channel would have been a vital link between Britain and the Continent. A community controlling the passage and pilotage of the Wantsum would have been in a powerful position. The demise of the Wantsum as an essential link in the Thames - Rhine - Seine trading sea-way would have come about in the Late Iron Age with the development of sailing craft able to tack into the wind and large enough to be safe in heavy seas. In support of the thesis of a Thanet Gateway Community, the writer has examined and analysed the Kentish distributions appertaining to prehistory, these being cropmarks, barrow cemeteries, settlement sites, and finds of ceramics bronzes and coins. Each of these is allocated a chapter and discussed and interpreted separately. In a final summary and discussion, the writer concludes that from a heuristic viewpoint a good case exists for a Thanet Gateway Community, with no other ready explanation for the Island's heavy concentration of sites and cultural materials.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: A gateway island: An exploration of evidence for the existence of a cultural focus in the form of a ‘gateway community’ in the Isle of Thanet during the Bronze age and early and middle Iron ages
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1555761
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