Prehistory, landscape and heterotopia: a contribution to the Ramsgate HAZ

Author(s): Jonathan Last

This report uses the Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) at Ramsgate, Kent, to develop a framework for including the deep time of prehistory in place-making projects. The document is designed to serve two purposes: (a) as a stimulus for general discussion about the inclusion of archaeological data in such exercises; and (b) as a text that can be drawn on to produce popular outputs about Ramsgate’s prehistory. The report first sets out the idea of ‘heterotopia’ as a way of thinking about the links between contemporary places and the archaeological past, and introduces three stories about the prehistory of the Ramsgate area that develop themes around the creation of community, the relationships between people and place, and continental connections: • The first narrative covers the Early Neolithic when for around 200 years the Ramsgate area was a centre of activity that included enclosure construction and pit digging, gatherings and feasts, deposition and burial, cattle herding and cereal processing. • The second considers the placement of the dead in the Early Bronze Age landscape, when the exceptional number of round barrows found on Thanet established relationships between people and places, with the landscape and perhaps also with the heavens. • The third concerns the interactions between foreigners and locals during the later Bronze Age and earlier Iron Age, especially as evidenced in a remarkable burial pit from Cliffsend. This was a relationship characterised by risk and violence as much as by wealth and conviviality. A final story takes a different approach, introducing the ‘creation geologist’ George Fairholme as a figure who links the exploration of Ramsgate’s deeper past with the town’s 19th-century heyday as a resort, and thereby with its visible historic character.

Report Number:
Research Report
Bronze Age Neolithic Prehistoric Landscape


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