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Keywords:

  • fowling;
  • avian;
  • bird;
  • South Uist;
  • Outer Hebrides;
  • Scotland

ABSTRACT

The island of South Uist in the Outer Hebrides has a rich archaeological past and a rich ecotonal landscape, which provides access to a wide range of avian resources. Throughout the island's past, these have played an important but sometimes modest role in the subsistence and life of the local populations. This paper explores fowling and avian resource use on South Uist through the analysis of new bone assemblages and their integration with collated existing avian data. The dataset shows that the inhabitants of South Uist made use of a wide range of avian resources year round. Some species were specifically and repeatedly targeted, whereas others were exploited infrequently or in low numbers. A targeted use of seabirds was identified, with period-specific increases in the capture of waders and waterfowl. A range of habitats from sea to moors were utilised for avian resources, and several capture techniques would have been employed. Evidence also suggests that birds were taken from further afield. The introduction of domesticates is traced from initially low numbers in the Iron Age to their increased occurrence in the Norse period. Over time, there is a notable decrease in the presence of great auk (Pinguinus impennis). Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.