It has been suggested to me more than once by amateur historians on forums, that in the time between 3300BC and 1500 BC the Britons stopped farming crops, and instead only kept livestock and foraged.


It's worth noting that agricultural practices changed quite significantly over the course of the Bronze Age in Britain. As argued in a recent Antiquity paper, in the early Bronze Age people seem to have been doing almost no farming at all, instead falling back on foraging and pastoralism. In 1103 BCE (oh you and your dates), i.e. the Middle/Late Bronze Age, it was coming back into fashion and several new crops were introduced: spelt wheat, peas and beans. The latter two are both incredibly useful nitrogen-fixing plants which we know were essential to later agricultural practices in Britain (e.g. the Medieval three-field system), so it may be that introducing them helped the second wave of farmers to overcome the problem of soil deterioration and practice more intensive agriculture.

This also isn't the only time i've heard of a fallback to pastoralism and semi-sedentary lifestyles, the same thing occurs in prehistoric Cyprus; between the Aceramic Neolithic and the Ceramic Neolithic (also known as the Sotira phase). It's been theorised that this is due to a temporary climate change that was not initially adjusted to, and it meant that less intense settlement became neccesary. The norm returns to a rotated series of hunting settlements and foraging sites rather than permanent villages.

It reminds of the demographic collapse decline and shift to mobile settlement you see in the Balkan and eastern European Bronze Age too. I wonder if pure Neolithic farming was just fundamentally unsustainable. They did rely heavily on cereals.

  • @EnergyNumbers: I think self-plagiarism is fine on StackExchange.
    – Oddthinking
    Dec 16, 2013 at 15:16
  • Jack, first, please keep it polite. Your goal remains unclear. You have a found an historian who has made a statement and supported it with evidence. You don't want to pay to read the original research, but it has been summarised now by both the historian AND by EnergyNumbers. What further information do you need? What would a good answer look like to you?
    – Oddthinking
    Dec 16, 2013 at 15:24
  • Oddthinking. EnergyNumbers sumised that before 3300BC the Britons did in fact grow crops, something which I now know was never in dispute. "It has been suggested to me more than once by amateur historians on forums, that before 1500 BC the Britons only kept livestock and didn't grow crops at all" please at least delete that part, it's not true. nobody ever suggested that to me.
    – jack
    Dec 16, 2013 at 15:34
  • 1
    @Oddthinking Or delete the reference, instead of the question text. The problem is that jack asked his question, but his question wasn't supported by the reference: because the reference said, "almost no farming at all", which when jack first asked the question he misunderstood as, "hadn't started farming", but which he now understands means, "had started but later stopped".
    – ChrisW
    Dec 16, 2013 at 16:02
  • ChrisW I didn’t miss understand anything. I forgot the exact claim in the YEAR since I heard it
    – jack
    Dec 16, 2013 at 20:39

1 Answer 1


That does not seem to be a generally accepted view.

There is evidence that crop-farming was carried out in the Bronze Age in Britain.

The site proved to be late Bronze Age, around 3,000 years old, four or five houses and evidence of smaller structures, such as storage sheds and granaries. There was also an Iron Age burial ground with seven barrows and other graves. This was quite unexpected and the site is unique in Britain.

The team discovered pottery fragments, remains of ancient crops, a quern or grinding stone, loom weights and a whetstone, giving a clear idea that Adanac Park’s former residents were working in a farm environment.

From Bronze Age farm discovered

The Middle Bronze Age also sees the first field systems in Britain, indicating growing pressure on the land as the numbers of people and animals increased.


The Bronze Age in Britain started around 2000 BC and lasted until the start of the Iron Age around 650 BC. Ref - So I believe this covers the period in the question.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .