Should we create a specific label for the period between the 25th century BC, when metal-using and other novelties first appeared in Britain and Ireland, and the 22nd century, when bronze first started to be used here? And if so, should it be called the Chalcolithic? To address these questions it is first necessary to take a critical look at how we characterise that period. This paper reviews what we do and do not know about what happened during those three or so centuries, concluding that this period does warrant a label of its own and taking the pragmatic view that the 'Chalcolithic' is as good a term as any, but only if it is unshackled from the conceptual baggage that has grown up around its use on the continent. 'Our' Chalcolithic - or rather 'Chalcolithics', given the different trajectories in Britain and Ireland - is much shorter than, and different from, the Chalcolithics of continental Europe.
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