Lithic Scatters and Landscape Occupation in the Late Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic: A Case Study from Eastern England

  • Lawrence Billington

Student thesis: Phd


Lithic scatters are the most abundant class of evidence relating to Late Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic activity in southern Britain. Many such scatters, especially those from surface and ploughsoil contexts, have long been characterised as being of low-interpretive value and have been marginalised both in academic studies of the periods and in the wider context of protecting and managing the historic environment. This vast body of evidence makes little contribution to contemporary understandings of the LUP and Mesolithic, which remains largely informed by work which privileges the investigation of well-preserved sites with in situ lithic scatters, especially those with associated faunal remains and palaeoenvironmental evidence. This has serious implications for our ability to characterise and interpret activity in locations and regions where such well preserved and intensively investigated sites are lacking, and in many areas of the country policy makers, fieldworkers and curators are not equipped with the information necessary to make informed decisions concerning the investigation, management and protection of the archaeology of these periods. This thesis explicitly address these issues through a detailed case study of the lithic scatter record from a study area in eastern England. This study is based around a comprehensive database of reported lithic scatters, assembled from a wide range of published and unpublished sources and encompassing all kinds of scatters, from well preserved and exhaustively analysed in-situ scatters to poorly provenanced collections of lithics amassed in the late 19th and early 20th century. This thesis provides the first comprehensive synthesis of the Late Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic of the study area and explicitly assesses the interpretative potential of the lithic scatter record, in terms of how it can be used both to develop narratives of landscape occupation and to inform future work on, and management of, lithic scatters in the study area and beyond.
Date of Award1 Aug 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorChantal Conneller (Supervisor) & Hannah Cobb (Supervisor)


  • Late Upper Palaeolithic
  • Mesolithic
  • Lithic Scatters

Cite this