Holger Wendling and Manfred K. H. Eggert
During the European Iron Age, human impact on the environment was considerable. Far from the impenetrable forests once envisaged, there had been extensive woodland clearance. A wide range of settlement types existed in intensively exploited landscapes. Sites and their hinterlands were often structured around older monuments, intentionally incorporated and integrated into local belief systems. Ancestral cemeteries, natural features, and places of resource procurement all acted as foci of collective identity, playing major roles in the mental construction of the landscape, intertwining sacred and profane. Structured settlement environs indicate an increasing importance of property rights and delimitation of social units. Social hierarchies were reproduced by architectural variability in settlements using monumental buildings as social markers, both in urban and rural contexts. The chapter also considers Iron Age exploitation of forests, which like other landscapes were heavily managed, their resources vital for constructing buildings, fortifications, and supplying the charcoal crucial for ironworking.