School of History, Classics and Archaeology

Lucy Cummings

Lucy Cummings

Rethinking the henge monuments of the British Isles

Year started


Project outline

The henge monuments of the British Isles are some of the best known monuments of Neolithic Europe, but are also some of the most poorly understood. Since they were first identified in the 1930s henges have been considered as a single category of site. Yet it is now apparent that wide variation in their size and architecture means they cannot be assumed to share a single use and meaning: variation in their design and use has important implications for understanding later Neolithic society.

My research project aims to reanalyse henge monuments of the British Isles in light of recent discussion on the validity and usefulness of the classification of these sites. This study will examine and discuss henge monuments and related architecture across the whole of the British Isles looking at this group of sites at the macro and micro level, examining excavated sites in the greatest detail whilst also considering henge monuments and typology more generally. This study will explore henges as a dynamic and architecturally varied phenomenon which combined innovation and tradition in their design and use. There is considerable variation in the complexity of their earthworks and what is found within them; these differences have usually been related to the numbers of people using these sites, but it is also important to consider transformations in the motivations of their builders over the duration of the later Neolithic. To do this I will be creating a database of detailed entries for henges which will allow me to look closely at the detail at excavated sites in order to understand the creation and changes in architecture and use over time. This database will be used as a basis for a relational review of the evidence to investigate the validity and uses of typology within the study of these sites.

Funding award

AHRC PhD funding for 2014-2017 from the Northern Bridge Doctoral Training Partnership

Other roles

• Conference co-organiser for the 2nd Neolithic and Early Bronze Age Research Student Symposium (NEBARSS) , Newcastle University, November 2015
• PGF (Postgraduate Forum) Seminar Coordinator, PGF Committee 2015-2016
• Discussion seminar leader for ARA2001 Archaeological Theory and Interpretation 2015-2016, 2016-2017
• Seminar contributor and contributing lecturer for ARA1028 Prehistoric Britain 2015-2016, and seminar contributor for 2016-2017
• 1st Cohort Student representative on the Newcastle Northern Bridge Management Meeting panel, 2014 – 2015, 2015-2016