chapter  1
CULTURAL AND CEREMONIAL BACKGROUND TO THE NORTH EUROPEAN MEGALITHS
Pages 22

Before the advent of agriculture, northern Europe was a land of hunter-gatherers. The process of transition here, from hunting-gathering to farming, was part of a much wider development that was taking place over the vast area of north-western Europe. Through their agricultural practices, the farmers altered the natural landscape in which they lived: forests were cut to create land suitable for crop fields, meadow pastures and settlements, and natural resources were transformed into economically and socially beneficial goods. Their most powerful and lasting legacy, however, was achieved not so much through agricultural practices but rather through the creation of a rich ceremonial landscape – a theatrical setting for social interaction and for expression, through rituals on a scale never encountered before, of the cosmological principles that shaped their vision of the universe in which they lived.