World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Wessex culture

Article Id: WHEBN0000643203
Reproduction Date:

Title: Wessex culture  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Bronze Age Europe, Hilversum culture, The Isles: A History, Knighton Heath Period, Bedd Branwen Period
Collection: Archaeological Cultures of Western Europe, Bronze Age Britain, Wessex
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Wessex culture

Bronze Age

Near East (c. 3300–1200 BC)

Anatolia, Caucasus, Elam, Egypt, Levant, Mesopotamia, Sistan
Bronze Age collapse

South Asia (c. 3000–1200 BC)

Ochre Coloured Pottery
Cemetery H

Europe (c. 3200–600 BC)

Aegean, Caucasus, Catacomb culture, Srubna culture, Beaker culture, Unetice culture, Tumulus culture, Urnfield culture, Hallstatt culture, Apennine culture, Canegrate culture, Golasecca culture,
Atlantic Bronze Age, Bronze Age Britain, Nordic Bronze Age

China (c. 2000–700 BC)

Erlitou, Erligang

arsenical bronze
writing, literature
sword, chariot

Iron age

The Wessex culture is the predominant prehistoric culture of central and southern Britain during the early Bronze Age, originally defined by the British archaeologist Stuart Piggott in 1938.[1] It should not be confused with the later Saxon kingdom of Wessex.

The culture is related to the Hilversum culture of the southern Netherlands, Belgium and northern France, and linked to the northern France armorican tumuli,[2] prototyped with the Middle Rhine group of Beaker culture and commonly subdivided in the consecutive phases Wessex I (2000-1650 BC) and Wessex II (1650-1400). Wessex I is closely associated with the construction and use of the later phases of Stonehenge.

They buried their dead under barrows using inhumation at first but later using cremation and often with rich grave goods. They appear to have had wide ranging trade links with continental Europe, importing amber from the Baltic, jewellery from modern day Germany, gold from Brittany as well as daggers and beads from Mycenaean Greece and vice versa. It has been speculated that river transport allowed Wessex to be the main link to the Severn estuary.[3] The wealth from such trade probably permitted the Wessex people to construct the second and third (megalithic) phases of Stonehenge and also indicates a powerful form of social organisation. Although this stage is responsible for the image people think of when they hear the word Stonehenge, this stage of construction has little to do with the astronomical calculations that can be answered using Stonehenge.

When the term 'Wessex Culture' was first coined, investigations into British prehistory were in their infancy and the unusually rich and well documented burials in the Wessex area loomed large in literature on the Bronze Age. During the twentieth century many more Bronze Age burials were uncovered and opinions about the nature of the early-mid Bronze Age shifted considerably. Since the late 20th century it has become customary to consider 'Wessex Culture' as a limited social stratum rather than a distinct cultural grouping, specifically referring to the hundred or so particularly richly furnished graves in and around Wiltshire. The culture group, however, is named as one of the intrusive Beaker groups that appear in Ireland.[4]


  1. ^ [1] The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Archaeology - Timothy Darvill, 2002, Wessex culture, p.464, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-211649-5
  2. ^ The Armorican Tumuli of the Early Bronze Age, A Statistic Analysis for Calling the Two Series into Question -Mareva Gabillot et al.
  4. ^ Ancient Ireland, Life before the Celts - Laurence Flanagan, 1998, p.83, Gil & MacMillan, ISBN 0-7171-2433-9


  • Piggott, S 1938. The Early Bronze Age in Wessex, Proc. Prehist. Soc. 4, 52-106.
  • Piggott, S 1973. The Wessex culture of the Early Bronze Age, Victoria County History Wiltshire I (ii), 352-75.
  • Coles, J M and J Taylor 1971. The Wessex Culture, a minimal view, Antiquity 45, 6-14.
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.