4.3.1 Chalcolithic

In addition to the appearance of the first copper and gold artefacts in the 25th century BC, the British Chalcolithic is defined by the presence of other Continental novelties in the archaeological record. Beaker pottery marks a striking change from the indigenous Grooved Ware that was probably still in use at the time (Copper et al 2021). New funerary practices also appear; these feature individual inhumation, with bodies laid on their side in a contracted position according to Continental norms. Other artefact types and styles such as barbed-and-tanged arrowheads (Needham 2012; Parker Pearson et al 2019) are also Continental novelties. These new Chalcolithic artefacts appeared over much of Great Britain, including Scotland (Sheridan 2012a), and within a few generations they seem to have been widely adopted (Needham 2005; 2012). The Beaker ceramic tradition in Britain lasted for several centuries until around the 18th century BC (Jay et al 2019). Recent ancient DNA (aDNA) analysis of Beaker-associated human remains elsewhere in Britain has shown that the earliest users of this Continental pottery style were immigrants. They came from a variety of places on the near Continent to different parts of Britain and Ireland (Olalde et al 2018; Booth et al 2021; Patterson et al 2022).

With the predominant diagnostic evidence for Chalcolithic activity centring around Continental-style material culture and funerary practices, these elements feature highly in the resource assessment of this chronological period. Beaker Use and funerary Practices Ceremonial Monuments Settlement Material Culture