The Oxford laboratory provided Historic Scotland with its radiocarbon determinations between July 1999 and June 2001. Most determinations were obtained from sites dug during landscape-oriented campaigns in areas threatened by natural forces, such as marine and sub-aerial erosion in the Western Isles, or insidious threats such as ploughing in eastern Scotland. A significant number were from sites excavated in advance of trunk road building. A further source of evidence came from dates obtained during the writing up of old excavations and re-dating of material from significant published excavations. Some dates were obtained for material from excavations which were not otherwise sponsored by Historic Scotland, where the evidence appeared to illuminate that from active Historic Scotland projects and radiocarbon determinationswould not otherwise have been obtained. Several palaeoenvironmental sequences were dated in association with archaeological work on nearby sites.
The vast majority of archaeological dates were from single pieces of charred material or bone (Ashmore 1999, 24–30). Where possible more than one sample was dated from each context. The determinations demonstrate how common residuality is on Scottish sites, and throw doubt on results obtained from a mixture of several pieces of charcoal. New dates from samples from Knap of Howar, Stones of Stenness and Lundin Links suggest that Baillie's contention that the error estimates attached to some 14C measurements obtained in the early 1980s were underestimated by a factor of around four may be correct (Baillie 1990, 36–6). However the evidence from re-dating of samples from Lundin Links and Knap of Howar may equally well suggest that errors were not normally distributed: most errors may have been underestimated by a factor between one and two, with a few determinations having markedly greater errors.
The dating of poorly preserved bone improved during the period of the contract, and the use of stable isotope ratios to assess success (in minimising the retention of carbon from material unrelated to that in the bone at the time of death of the organism providing the sample) allowed some date estimates to be corrected by re-measurement with more appropriate pre-treatment.
The known problems associated with the dating of cremated bone and pot residues using traditional fractions meant that few such samples were submitted for dating. That the three cremated bone determinations from Fordhouse reflect contamination with later carbon was confirmed by a date subsequently obtained from the carbonate fraction of bio-apatite at the Groningen laboratory by the National Museums of Scotland (Sheridan pers. comm.). Bone carbonate dating seems to be the best way forward, at least for highly fired bone. It is difficult to tell whether all of the pot residue measurements from Littleour, Deer's Den and Ceann Nan Clachan are accurate. The pot residue from Ceann Nan Clachan produced a date compatible with those from barley grains. Two of the three results from Littleour are in agreement with dates from charcoal but the other is significantly different. Two determinations from pot residues in a small pit at Deer's Den produced significantly different dates from each other and from dates from charcoal in other seemingly similar pits. One confounding factor in assessing what these apparent discrepancies mean is the possibility that people in these complex societies kept heirlooms. Nevertheless, it does not seem safe to rely solely on pot residue dates, although there is little doubt that some provide reliable information about the dates of the pots and of the contexts in which they were found.
The Historic Scotland dating programme includes one or two sequences which seem difficult to explain because it is not possible to distinguish between the possibilities of residual or intrusive material, or errors in excavation or post-excavation, or failings in administrative, pre-treatment or measurement procedures or statistical flukes. The dates from An Dunan (part of the Uig landscape project, Arch. List 30) are odd. The dating reversals from the Dunadd, Cille na Creige, Tarsuinn and Polmsh pollen columns (see Arch. List 30) are easily explained in general terms by inclusion of residual material in the sequences, but it is less easy to prove any particular explanation. However, the vast majority of the 14C ages are entirely credible (in the sense that there are no reasons to suspect errors other than the normal error of measurement) particularly if it be remembered that about 20 of the ages in this list will be wrong by more than twice their errors and four by more than thrice.
The dating programme demonstrates conclusively that it is essential to obtain multiple single-entity determinations rather than determinations for bulked-together bone or charcoal. The danger of misinterpretation arising from measurements from residual material is far less than that of obtaining ‘average’ dates from pieces of organic material of very different date. Many more AMS analyses will be needed before we can be truly confident that the dated sites are typical of their areas, and there are many remaining chronological and geographical problems to be resolved, but overall the dating programme has been hugely successful, throwing light where previously there was, if not darkness, a fog.
The period before about 4000 BC
The dates obtained from Oxford for hunter-gatherer sites, notably those from Cramond (Edinburgh), suggest that human occupation in Scotland began well before the end of the ninth millennium BC and probably nearer its middle. Indeed, human occupation in Scotland seems to have been earlier than the spread of most tree species apart from birch, hazel and willow. Edwards and Whittington (1997, 66) suggest that pollen evidence shows that hazel spread from the far west from about the middle of the tenth millennium BC, very soon after the end of the Loch Lomond Stadial. Hazel pollen is however difficult to distinguish from that of bog myrtle. Direct dating of hazel wood and nut shells from archaeological contexts, including those from Cramond (Edinburgh), Fordhouse (Angus) and Camais Darach (Skye), currently suggest that people's use of it spread from the south-east about the middle of the ninth millennium BC. More generally, the determinations measured by ORAU during this contract reverse the previous tendency to suppose that hunter gatherers spread up the west coast before they exploited the east. But the total amount of evidence, and the difference in date, are small, and expansion of populations on a broad front remains a possibility.
Determinations from the Scotland's First Settlers project do not confirm a hypothesis that hunter gatherers settled down in the fifth millennium BC and adopted farming: the dates from Scotland's First Settlers: Sand (Lochalsh) and Loch A Squir, Raasay (Skye) come from the eighth and seventh millennia BC, the latter site also producing dates from the first millennium BC. The sites at Ben Lawers (Perth and Kinross), Home Farm, Castle Menzies (Perth and Kinross) and Chapelfield, Cowie (Stirling) confirm a pattern in Scotland of early use of sites used for much later structures. Between them they demonstrate inland activities from the eighth to the fifth millennia BC. The cave site at Raschoille near Oban (Argyll and Bute) contains evidence for a variety of activities from the seventh to the fifth millennium BC, after which the cave was used for depositing human skeletal material through and beyond the fourth millennium BC.
Fourth millennium BC
The determinations from the timber alignment and arc of postholes at Home Farm, Castle Menzies in central Scotland, are amongst a small number of reliable dates from the first quarter of the fourth millennium BC. In this period people who had traditionally not included farming in their subsistence strategies may have occupied the land along with those who did. The dated structures are different from the structures usually associated with the concept of an early “Neolithic Period”. The dates of the second quarter of the fourth millennium and later from Raschoille Cave near Oban (Argyll and Bute) demonstrate that the local people chose to finally dispose of at least some of the remains of their dead in much earlier midden under a natural overhang, rather than in the putatively contemporary chambered tombs of the area. The practice was continued for at least half a millennium. From the other side of the country, Fordhouse barrow near Dun (Angus) shows a site with much evidence for pre-agricultural activity used for formal burials in a chambered mound in a traditionally “Neolithic” style as early as any other mounds in Scotland. The results obtained by ORAU for midden at Knap of Howar (Orkney) can now be seen as showing that the site belongs to the mid fourth millennium BC, and is clearly separate in time from sites with grooved ware, resolving a long-lasting ambiguity created by previously obtained dates (Ashmore 2000, 300–3). The AMS results from Holm of Papa Westray (Orkney) appear to demonstrate that some sheep in the islands had a partly marine diet. They also show closure of a stalled tomb at a date similar to those from animal bones in three tombs with broadly similar characteristics on another Orkney Island, Rousay (Renfrew 1979, 206). A date was obtained for a hearth at Garvald Burn (Scottish Borders) near a ‘late Mesolithic’ chert scatter and knapping floor. It may suggest a continuation of hunter-gatherer activities into the first half of the fourth millennium BC in some parts of southern Scotland.
The occurrence of early fourth millennium BC pits with pottery and lithics characteristic of this period at Kintore Bypass, Deer's Den, (Aberdeenshire) (see Arch. List 28) suggests that farmers occupied the same lowland areas as later peoples and hints at the potential for reinterpretation of settlement in this period. The house at Kinbeachie (Ross and Cromarty) (see Arch. List 28) is broadly comparable to some of the numerous and roughly contemporary houses know in Ireland and suggests that further excavation in the plough-lands should demonstrate that there was to some extent a ‘settled Neolithic’ in Scotland, whatever the situation in southern England. The evidence from Ben Lawers is complex: a date of this period from the upper part of a later pit may be connected with Neolithic pottery found nearby. The settlement on Eilean Domhnuill (Western Isles) (see Arch. List 30) can be interpreted in at least two ways, as a very individual but not atypical settlement, or as a special place, and it suggests a need for reinvestigation of long-known sites such as Eilean an Tighe (Scott 1953). The crude timber platform at Parks of Garden (Stirling) suggests exploitation of marshy environments in central Scotland, though it is not clear whether there was settlement of this period in the wetlands themselves.
The new determinations provide strong support for the idea that there were many regional ‘Neolithics’ in Scotland and that the ‘Neolithics’ of the plough-lands have not been explored adequately in most interpretations of Scottish prehistory (Barclay 2000, 275). The discoveries at Raschoille suggest that the same may be true of the west.
Third millennium BC
The animal bones at the base of the ditch at Stones of Stenness in Orkney were dated afresh, showing that the monument belonged around 3000 BC and was, as previously believed, early amongst major ceremonial sites with Grooved Ware. By way of contrast, the dates from Littleour (Perthshire) suggested that Grooved Ware continued in use until well after the middle of the millennium. That late date is supported by ages from another laboratory for a site at Auchlishie in Angus (Dick 2000). The cist from Mill Road, Linlithgow (see Arch. List 28) containing six inhumations is very securely dated to the last quarter of the third millennium BC. Although there are five earlier dates from cists in Scotland, all of them except that from the multiple burial in a massive cist at Sumburgh, Shetland, have question-marks attached to them. Perhaps these multiple burials support the idea that burial rituals common in the fourth millennium were not replaced rapidly by single burial customs; but it is also notable that the dates are roughly contemporary with the earliest seemingly reliable dates for inhumations with beakers in cists. Amongst these is that from the Haddington Mains cist, which is surprisingly early, given the typology of the beaker, even if comparable to the previously earliest seemingly credible date for a beaker (with a burial in a pit) from Sorisdale, Coll. Admittedly the Ben Lawers date discussed above, with dates from sites of the fourth millennium and that obtained many years ago from a cist at Skateraw in East Lothian, are earlier; but the former date is not directly for the beaker and the latter does seem to require re-measurement. Perhaps however a more fruitful exercise might be a large-scale re-examination of Scottish beaker typologies using AMS techniques to obtain smaller errors than were available for Kinnes and his collaborators’ study (Kinnes et al. 1991). The dates for the late third millennium (or very early second millennium) activity at Silgenach provide the first reliable multi-date set for this period in the Western Isles, although a single date from the house at Kildonan (Zvelebil 1989, 1991) suggests it may be of around the same date. The ages from the midden at Northton and from agricultural activity at Rosinish require re-measurement; the former requirement should be satisfied this year in association with production of a full report.
Second millennium BC
The Callanish kerb cairn lies on the line of the avenue of the Calanais stone setting, which has dates suggesting periods of activity involving creation of charred material in the period between 2900 and 2600 BC and between about 1950 and 1750 BC. It is possible that the charred grain relates to agricultural activity at the time of the earlier set of dates from the main setting. The main use of the cairn could be roughly contemporary with the second period of activity at the main setting, or later. It may have been contemporary or slightly earlier than a very different set of activities at West Water, at the northern end of the Scottish Borders, involving burials in pits. West Water is particularly celebrated for the discovery of lead beads. A house from a settlement at Bayanne is one of the very few so far securely dated to this period in Shetland. The function of the ring ditch at Kintore Bypass, Deer's Den (see Arch. List 28) in eastern Scotland is difficult to ascertain. It is contemporary with some of the round houses at Lintshie Gutter in Clydesdale and some of the round houses at Achany Glen, Lairg in Northern Scotland The dates for late cremations at Fordhouse barrow in Eastern Scotland are included here, despite their being measured by the Oxford laboratory as belonging to the end of the first millennium BC, because re-dating at Groningen suggests a much more credible date in the second quarter of the second millennium BC. Pits at Silgenach (Western Isles) produced dates from barley grains which may have been residual because the pottery in the pits is of a style thought to be over half a millennium later.
The mid-millennium dates from Coast Road, Longniddry (East Lothian) for crouched inhumations are important in helping to fill a 500 14C year gap in the record of burials in East Lothian but are very broadly comparable to dates from crouched burials in cists at Dryburn Bridge, East Lothian and Grainfoot, Longniddry. Lothian burial customs appear often to be different from those in other parts of Scotland, in particular in the 1st millennium BC and the easy assumption that these burials have a close affinity with crouched burials accompanied by beakers in cists should be challenged. One of the sets of human remains from St Nicholas Farm (Fife) (see Arch. List 30) was of this period; surprisingly early, for the bones had been supposed to relate to use of the site as a hospital in the medieval period. An urn from Glennan (Argyll and Bute) should have belonged to this period but instead produced a much later date, and to further confound expectations a second date obtained from another laboratory produced an anomalously early date.
Both of the burnt mounds, at Tangwick (Shetland) (see Arch. List 30) and Cleuchbrae, Annandale (Dumfries and Galloway) appear to be multi-period. Broadly speaking their dates are similar to one another, neither showing a high probability of activity in the middle of the millennium. Although their dates can be matched by those of other burnt mounds elsewhere in Scotland there is little suggestion that their diachronic patterns are dominant elsewhere, although they certainly occur, but it will obviously be important to obtain multiple single entity dates from all burnt mounds in future.
First millennium BC
This period saw major changes in Scotland. The archaeology of the period between about 1000 and 800 BC is (very incompletely) known from dated structures in various parts of Scotland: substantial houses in Perthshire and Jura, settlements of round houses on hillside platforms in the south and burnt mounds in the north, and late use of ceremonial sites near the Moray firth. In Edinburgh the Castle rock was occupied and a settlement had started up on what was later to be a very substantial occupation site in Orkney. Altogether it suggests many societies of the first quarter of the first millennium were not very different from their predecessors of the latter part of the second millennium BC but others presaged societies of the subsequent period. However, none of the dates obtained during this contract belong securely to this fascinating first fifth of the first millennium BC.
The earlier Iron Age radiocarbon calibration plateau is almost matched by a later plateau; but at least that means that we can distinguish earlier and later periods. The dates from between the eight and sixth centuries BC include those from the scooped house at Kintore Bypass: Deer's Den (Aberdeenshire) (see Arch. List 28) and fort at the Brown Caterthun (Angus), a large multivallate structure formed by interrupted banks. In the Western Isles occupation was resumed at Silgenach (Western Isles) and started at Uig Landscape Project: Gob Hirer (Western Isles). The cellular buildings at Ceann Nan Clachan, Vallay Strand (Western Isles), are important in showing that this building style was present much earlier than the well known cellular buildings found in settlements centring on Atlantic roundhouses. The dates from after the gap between the two dating plateaux include a subrectangular house from Uig Landscape Project: An Dunan (Western Isles) and a round house at Kintore bypass: Tavelty (see Arch. List 28), probably reflecting regional differences in house styles. Two dumbbell shaped ovens from Kintore bypass: Rosebank (see Arch. List 28) have dates significantly different from each other. They may relate to the Kintore Roman temporary marching camp.
First millennium AD
Although there are extremely important dating sequences from settlements such as those at Kintore bypass: Deer's Den, Kintore bypass: Rosebank (see Arch. List 28) and Auchlishie in the east, Bayanne on Shetland and Bornais in the Western Isles, the major revelation provided by the ORAU detrminations during this contract has been the dates from cemeteries, mostly but not exclusively in eastern and south-eastern Scotland.
The radiocarbon-dated burials include those from a long cist cemetery at Galson in the Western Isles with a span ending in the mid sixth century judging by dates obtained before this contract; the new dates from Oxford suggest that burials started at a date between the first and third centuries AD. This is remarkably early. Other new evidence provided by Oxford for various small and large sites, most notably Thorneybank near Dalkeith (Midlothian), suggests that the immediate origins of eastern Scottish long cist cemeteries lay in south-east Scotland, in an area not traditionally associated with Picts, very probably by the fourth century AD. The small cemetery encountered during work in advance of A1 Dualling, Dunbar (East Lothian) may be early compared to other eastern of long cists cemeteries, although there are concerns about possible contamination. The later fifth to early seventh century cairn cemetery at Lundin Links (Fife) may reflect burial traditions emanating from Angus, because one of the round barrows from Red Castle (Angus) predated the fifth century. It seems likely on the present limited evidence that the two traditions, of long cist and of cairn cemeteries, met around the late fifth century at Lundin Links, and that by the late seventh century AD the practice of burying people under cairns became unpopular there, although it may have remained in favour in northern Scotland until about the end of the millennium. Other burials were dated in various parts of Scotland. At Loch Borralie (Caithness), a burial possibly representing a variant on the tradition of burying people in small cairns. A burial in a long cist and another in a round cist at An Corran, Boreray (Western Isles) were roughly contemporary with one another. A date from an inhumation at Cnip (Western Isles) incorporates a significant marine effect; and may be Norse despite a date nominally too early. The long cist burial at Ben Lawers (Perth and Kinross) is interesting as one of the most westerly of the eastern Scottish distribution. Three dated burials from St Nicholas Farm (Fife) showed that the hospital seems to have been built in an area previously used to dispose of human remains.
Another important theme is the appearance of dated Norse structures succeeding re-use of a wheelhouse at Bornais (Western Isles); evidence for the Norse is discussed in more depth below with sites of the second millennium BC. The metalworking site at Meadows, Dornoch ((Easter Ross) is clearly of very considerable interest and may have some bearing on the subsequent creation of the medieval burgh.
Lastly, an otherwise completely undated timber platform at Kilmore (Argyll and Bute) was shown to belong in this period while a date from Berryhill (Aberdeenshire) suggests that an enclosure which might have been a plantation or other recent boundary may well be of the first millennium AD.
Second millennium AD
The determinations from Bornais and Smoo cave probably reflect Norse activity, helping to fill out knowledge of their activities in areas where a decade ago few archaeological traces of the Norse were known. The discoveries at Bornais are of particular importance because of the richness of the artefact assemblages.
Some determinations from middens sampled in the Scotland's first Settlers project provided evidence for much later activity than had been expected. The midden at Scotland's first Settlers: Ashaig 1 is at least in part medieval while that at Scotland's First Settlers: Crowlin 1, Lochalsh (Highland) is early first millennium at least in part and a limpet scoop is late medieval in date.
Many of the other second millennium AD dates come from cemeteries, perhaps reflecting the relative ease with which such sites are recognised. They confirm the prevalence of burial in long cist or long grave cemeteries, often centred on chapels, and there are no traces amongst the dated burial places at Newark Bay (Orkney), Cille Bhrea, Lemlair (Easter Ross), Stirling Castle (see Arch. List 30), Wishart Avenue, Montrose (Angus) (see Arch. List 30) or Colonsay House (Argyll and Bute) (see Arch. List 28) of continuing pagan practices.
The Scottish bloomeries project has been very important in revealing details of medieval iron industries in the west and north-west, reflecting perhaps the ease of recognition of sites in this area but confirming that even at this early period fuel supplies helped to control the location of bloomeries. The Ben Lawers and to an even greater extent the Uig landscape project (see Arch. List 30) are starting to reveal medieval rural settlement, albeit in marginal areas, still very difficult to locate with any certainty from field remains alone. Lastly, a date from a scatter of shells at Newbigging, Burntisland (Fife) showed that a possible midden was not early prehistoric but, presumably, related to fairly modern agriculture.
Sample of bone from the site A1 Dualling, Dunbar, East Lothian (NGR NT 68257729) Scotland, submitted by T. Neighbour and M. Cressey, Centre for Field Archaeology, Old High School. 12 Infirmary Street. Edinburgh, EH1 1LT, through Historic Scotland. Comments by P. Ashmore, Historic Scotland.
|OxA-9378||human bone, grave 3/SPOT, δ13C= −20.7‰||1850 ± 45|
Comment (P. A.): a single human bone from Grave 3 of a small long cist cemetery was dated to between the first and early fourth centuries AD. Although the date is credible because small long cist cemeteries may be early, the bone was not well preserved and experience with dating similarly poorly preserved bone from other long cist cemeteries in eastern Scotland suggests that it is easily contaminated by soil carbon.
Samples of bone from the site An Corran, Boreray, Western Isles (NGR NF 85768051), Scotland, submitted by J. Downes, ARCUS, Univ. Sheffield, through Historic Scotland. Comments by P. Ashmore, Historic Scotland.
|OxA-8784||cattle bone, 001/27, δ13C = −20.7‰||1640 ± 50|
|OxA-8802||human bone, 002/7, δ13C = −19.4‰||1875 ± 45|
|OxA-8803||human bone, 003/8, δ13C = −19.4‰||1815 ± 40|
Comment (P. A.): three determinations from a small complex coastal eroding site suggested that a corbelled non-funerary structure dates between the late third and early sixth centuries AD, that a human interment in a long cist dates to between the early first and mid third centuries AD, and that another burial in a round cist dates to between the late first and early fourth century AD. The long cist burial is of broadly similar date to burials at Galson in Lewis, but in Scotland as a whole these dates are all earlier than those for long cist burials in eastern Scotland and, probably, earlier than those in Orkney, although one burial at Buckquoy has produced a broadly similar date.
Samples from the site Auchlishie, Kirriemuir, Angus (NGR NO 38705786), Scotland, submitted by A. M. Dick, 3, Grampian Crescent, Kirriemuir, Angus, Scotland. DD8 4TW, through Historic Scotland. Comments by P. Ashmore, Historic Scotland.
|OxA-8773||Corylus avellana, charred shell, 457.6, δ13C = −25.4‰||1960 ± 35|
|OxA-8774||Pinus sylvestus wood, 552.1, δ13C = −23.0‰||290 ± 40|
|OxA-8796||Alnus glutinosa charcoal, 608.2, δ13C = −26.5‰||1885 ± 40|
|OxA-8797||Corylus avellana, charcoal, 622.4, δ13C = −23.0‰||1820 ± 35|
|OxA-8798||Alnus glutinosa charcoal, 638.2, δ13C = −27.3‰||1865 ± 45|
|OxA-8799||Alnus glutinosa charcoal, 904.2, δ13C = −28.3‰||1985 ± 40|
Comment (P. A.): six determinations from a complex and long-used domestic site at Auchlishie in Angus help to provide a dating sequence which largely conforms with dating by artefacts. Two dates suggest that a scooped ring ditch house and a Dalladies-type souterrain belong between the mid to late first centuries AD and the earlier third of the second century AD, and three results from material in pits attributed to a post-ring house show that it probably dates to somewhere between the first and early fourth centuries AD. The other determination showed that robbing of a souterrain probably took place somewhat before the expected date of around 1800 AD.
Bayanne House, Shetland
Samples of charred barley grains from Bayanne House, Yell, Shetland (NGR HU 51959777), submitted by H. Moore and A. G. Wilson, East Archaeological Consultants, Unit 8, Abbeymount Techbase, 2 Easter Road, Edinburgh EH7 5AN, through Historic Scotland.
|OxA-9894||Hordeum sp. charred seeds, BY97 F.20(i), δ13C = −23.8‰||1704 ± 34|
|OxA-9895||Hordeum sp. charred seeds, BY97 F.561(i), δ13C = −24.4‰||2980 ± 34|
|OxA-9896||Hordeum sp. charred seeds, BY97 F.633(i).δ13C = −23.4‰||2689 ± 35|
|OxA-9897||Hordeum sp. charred seeds, BY97 F.641(i), δ13C = −25.6‰||2752 ± 37|
|OxA-9898||Hordeum sp. charred seeds, BY97 F.650(1), δ13C = −22.3‰||2300 ± 38|
|OxA-9899||Hordeum sp. charred seeds, BY97 F.6550), δ13C = −25.8‰||2936 ± 35|
|OxA-9900||Hordeum sp. charred seeds, BY97 F.7180), δ13C = −23.5‰||3417 ± 38|
|OxA-9901||Hordeum sp. charred seeds, BY97 F.7740), δ13C = −25.2‰||3015 ± 40|
|OxA-9902||Hordeum sp. charred seeds, BY97 F.775A(i), δ13C = −24.8‰||3126 ± 36|
|OxA-9928||Hordeum sp. charred seeds, BY97 F.699(id13C = −23.9‰||1875 ± 60|
|OxA-9951||Hordeum sp. charred seeds, BY97 F.764(i), δ13C = −23.1‰||3216 ± 37|
Comments (H. M. and A. G. W.): the complex, deeply stratified settlement at Bayanne, Yell, Shetland is, given the generally acidic environments of northern Shetland, remarkable for its preservation of bones and shells. Eleven AMS determinations from charred barley grains suggest that it was first occupied around 1700 BC. House 3 was occupied between about 1500 and 1250 BC and was abandoned by about 800 BC, although an associated outhouse was still in use at this time. House 1 was in use about about 800 BC and a third, House 2, was in use about 450 AD. The ages fit in well with the site sequence and they are particularly important in providing dates for pottery (there are very few dates securely associated with pottery in Shetland) and economic activities.
Bay of Moaness
Samples from the site Bay of Moaness, Rousay, Orkney Islands, (NGR HY 37752928) Scotland, submitted by K. J. Edwards, Dept. of Geog., Univ. Aberdeen, through Historic Scotland. Comments by P. Ashmore. Historic Scotland.
|OxA-9011||red deer bone, BM-1, δ13C = −21.4‰||2890 ± 45|
|OxA-9012||sheep/goat bone, BM-2, δ13C = −21.7‰||3000 ± 50|
|OxA-9013||red deer bone, BM-3, δ13C = −20.9‰||2445 ± 45|
|OxA-9014||sheep/goat bone, BM-4, δ13C = −20.1‰||2770 ± 45|
|OxA-9015||sheep/goat bone, BM-5.δ13C = −20.2‰||1720 ± 40|
|OxA-9016||ungulate bone, BM-6, δ13C = −21.5‰||1780 ± 45|
|OxA-9072||peat, BM-7, δ13C = −26.6‰||5870 ± 45|
|OxA-9073||peat, BM-8, δ13C = −27.4‰||4285 ± 50|
|OxA-9074||peat, BM-9, δ13C = −28.8‰||1895 ± 40|
|OxA-9075||peat, BM-10, δ13C = −28.0‰||1320 ± 35|
|OxA-9076||peat, BM-12, δ13C = −26.1‰||5320 ± 40|
|OxA-9077||peat, BM-13, δ13C = −27.6‰||3425 ± 50|
|OxA-9078||peat, BM-14, δ13C = −28.8‰||1215 ± 35|
|OxA-9128||peat, BM-11, δ13C = −28.1‰||6885 ± 55|
Comment: (P. A.): fourteen determinations from intercalated deposits of marl and peat on the coast of Rousay provided a sequence of events in what are now banded clay and peat intertidal deposits. The onset of peat formation was dated to the earlier half of the sixth millennium BC, with massive peat formation in the earlier half of the fifth millennium. There was a fall in woodland pollen around the last quarter of the fifth millennium, which may suggest human intervention half a millennium earlier than we have evidence in Orkney for structures typical of farming communities. An expansion of herbaceous taxa at 3080 to 2700 BC is of unknown significance in terms of human occupation nearby Four determinations suggest that between the late second and mid first millennia BC remains of butchered animals were deposited in the area, and two other determinations suggest something similar happening in the mid second to early fourth centuries AD. There was a renewed expansion of herbaceous taxa between the mid seventh and late eighth centuries AD followed by a soil capping some time between the late seventh and mid tenth centuries AD. The sequence is intriguing for at least two reasons. The data can be used to help test the model favoured by Lambeck (1995) of Orkney being on a fore-bulge during the glacial period and subsequently sinking consistently. Pollen and macroplant analysis should allow a fuller view of land use both prior to the first farming in Orkney and during the later fourth and earlier third millennia when several chambered tombs were in use on the southern flanks of the island.
Samples of charcoal from the site Ben Lawers, Perth and Kinross, (NN 61293928) Scotland, submitted by J. Atkinson, GUARD, The Gregory Building, Lilybank Gardens, Univ. Glasgow, through Historic Scotland. Comments by P. Ashmore, Historic Scotland.
|OxA-8964||Betula charcoal, 5, 13042.δ13C = −27.6‰||250 ± 38|
|OxA-8965||Betula charcoal, 5AS, 16032, δ13C = −26.7‰||309 ± 39|
|OxA-8966||Calluna charcoal, 14, 16065, δ13C = −25.4‰||308 ± 36|
|OxA-8967||Salix charcoal, 16, 16066, δ13C = −24.9‰||8045 ± 55|
|OxA-8968||Betula charcoal, 1, 16011, δ13C = −27.4‰||349 ± 38|
|OxA-8969||Betula charcoal, 5AS2, 16032, δ13C = −26.5‰||323 ± 36|
|OxA-8970||Betula charcoal, 4, 16053, δ13C = −26.4‰||274 ± 39|
|OxA-8971||Betula charcoal, 3, 16048, δ13C = −25.4‰||263 ± 36|
|OxA-8972||Betula charcoal, 8, 17024, δ13C = −26.0‰||1344 ± 36|
|OxA-8973||Corylus charcoal, 4, 17007, δ13C = −27.4‰||5055 ± 45|
|OxA-9035||Prunus sp. charcoal, 11, 10025, δ13C = −27.7‰||329 ± 35|
Comment (P. A.): eleven determinations from various sites near Ben Lawers, North of Loch Tay, demonstrated use of the area from the centuries around 7000 BC until the late medieval or post-medieval period, including an early Christian cemetery. There was clearly a large amount of disturbance, some no doubt due to use of turf as a building material in the post-medieval period, but some more difficult to explain.
Willow charcoal from the fill of a pit partly sealed by a phase 2 bank of a cellular turf structure was dated to between the last third of the eight and the first third of the seventh millennium BC.
Hazel charcoal from the upper fill of a small pit containing an AOC beaker and fragments of calcined bone was dated to the first quarter of the fourth millennium BC, about 1500 to 2000 years earlier than expected. The most likely explanation is that the hazel was residual, with an origin perhaps around the time that Neolithic pottery was in use in the vicinity.
Six determinations of from charcoal were associated with a cellular turf structure. Three came from fire spots, one from a hearth and two from a substantial occupation horizon containing early Neolithic pottery and worked quartz. All implied dates after the late fifteenth century AD; four of them suggested dates before the mid seventeenth century AD while one which might have been as late as the end of the eighteenth century AD and the other could even have been modern. The cellular structure is much more likely to have been built afresh in the Late Medieval period, and thereafter reused, than to have been a re-used Neolithic structure. It is an interesting speculation that without the radiocarbon determinations from the occupation layer the structure might have been interpreted as early Neolithic.
Blackthorn charcoal from an early hearth at a shieling hut was dated to between the late fifteenth and mid seventeenth centuries AD. Birch charcoal from the lower fill of a large deep posthole at the shieling hut dated to some time after the beginning of the sixteenth century AD.
A single determinations from flax from the bottom of a pit suggests that it was used for retting some time after 1660 AD.
A sample of charcoal from the site Berryhill, Oyne 2000, (NGR NJ 66792503), Aberdeenshire, Scotland, submitted by H. Murray, Hill of Belnagoak, Methlick, Ellon, Aberdeenshire, AB41 7JN, through Historic Scotland.
|OxA-10386||Ilex aquifolium charcoal, 304/1, δ13C = −24.1‰||1953 ± 33|
Comment (H. M.): the sample came from below a hilltop stone enclosure wall. It had appeared possible that this wall could have been an eighteenth century improvement enclosure, rather than part of the prehistoric settlement. The probable first century AD date of the charcoal, although based on a single entity sample, suggest a prehistoric date for the wall. With caution it might be used to view the settlement in the context of the first century Agricolan campaigns in north-east Scotland.
Bornais, South Uist
Samples of bone from Bornais, South Uist, (NGR NF 729302) Scotland, submitted by N. Sharpies, HISAR, Cardiff Univ., PO Box 909, Cardiff, CF1 3XU, through Historic Scotland. Comments by P. Ashmore.
|Historic Scotland.|| || |
|OxA-9638||cattle bone, BO99/8157/558, δ13C = −20.9‰||1052 ± 34|
|OxA-9639||cattle bone, BO99/8155/557, δ13C = −21.1‰||1317 ± 39|
|OxA-9640||cattle bone, BO99/2035/482, δ13C = −20.2‰||1699 ± 34|
|OxA-9641||cattle bone, BO99/8565/456, δ13C = −20.4‰||1790 ± 40|
|OxA-9642||sheep/goat bone, BO99/8152/182, δ13C = −20.4‰||1011 ± 39|
|OxA-9643||cattle bone, BO99/9170/495, δ13C = −20.7‰||1686 ± 33|
|OxA-9665||red deer bone, BO99/9169/495, δ13C = −21.6‰||1705 ± 50|
|OxA-9677||red deer bone, BO99/9105/453, δ13C = −21.4‰||1580 ± 60|
|OxA-10273||sheep bone, BO99/5854/214, δ13C = −21.0‰||1065 ± 35|
|OxA-10274||cattle bone, BO99/5896/215, δ13C = −21.4‰||1004 ± 32|
|OxA-10275||Hordeum sp, charred seed, BO99/5906/604, δ13C = −22.5‰||880 ± 32|
|OxA-10276||Avena sp, charred seed, BO99/5964/269, δ13C = −25.8‰||537 ± 34|
|OxA-10277||Avena sp, charred seed, BO99/5971/269, δ13C = −25.9‰||521 ± 32|
|OxA-10278||Avena sp, charred seed, BO99/8629/276, δ13C = −25.8‰||563 ± 33|
|OxA-10279||cattle bone, BO99/8707/675, δ13CC= −22.5‰||863 ± 35|
|OxA-10291||Avena sp. charred seed, BO99/5909/604, δ13C = −22.9‰||580 ± 70|
|OxA-10292||Avena sp. charred seed, BO99/8045/614, δ13C = −24.8‰||590 ± 50|
|OxA-10304||Avena sp. charred seed, BO99/8077/614, δ13C = −26.0‰||660 ± 50|
|OxA-10305||Avena sp. charred seed, B099/8633/276, δ13C = −24.2‰||705 ± 50|
Comment (P. A.): this settlement site included three mounds which appear to result from successive occupations ranging from before the mid first millennium AD to, probably, some time around the fourteenth century AD. It is extremely important because it provides much information about both the pre-Norse and Norse uses of the area. The site has many rich assemblages of artefacts which appear to represent, amongst other things, on-site manufacture. The economic information from the site is of considerable importance.
Three determinations of bones in middens at the edge of mound 1 suggest use from perhaps as early as the second but more likely at some time between the third and early fifth centuries AD. One of an arc of cattle metapodials surrounding a hearth associated with a rebuilt Late Iron Age structure in mound 1 was dated to between the mid third and early fifth centuries AD while the final phase of the stone-lined hearth dated to between the mid fourth and early seventh centuries cal AD.
Individual bones from secondary occupation of a large bow shaped house of Norse type provided two dates the earlier of which is from a residual bone of 650 to 780 cal AD. The other bone suggests occupation at 890 to 1030 cal AD while another bone from an abandonment deposit dates to between 900 and 1160 cal AD.
Two sand layers underlying the main house on Mound 3 and immediately above the floor of a house were dated respectively to between the late ninth and early eleventh and the late tenth and mid twelfth centuries AD. The three successive floors of the house produced three determinations from oat grains between the late thirteenth and mid fifteenth centuries AD and one earlier date, from a barley grain, between the early eleventh and mid thirteenth centuries AD. A grain drying kiln was possibly in use as early as the mid eleventh to mid thirteenth centuries AD but certainly was in use at some time between the early early and mid fifteenth centuries AD.
Calanais fields Project
Samples of peat from Calanais fields, Isle of Lewis (NGR NB 21253265), Scotland, submitted by C. Flitcroft, M. Johnson and G. Coles, Dept. Archaeol., Univ. Edinburgh, through Historic Scotland. Comments by P. Ashmore, Historic Scotland.
The Calanais Fields Project has completed two seasons of excavation, in 1999 and 2000, at Calanais Farm on the Isle of Lewis. The results of this fieldwork have demonstrated the presence of an extensive agricultural landscape buried beneath up to 2 m of peat, consisting of a variety of different features including field walls, clearance heaps and structures, and the widespread presence of a prehistoric land surface with fragments of rig-and-furrow surviving. This fragment of field system is likely to constitute part of an organised agricultural landscape that may extend over a much wider area, and is beginning to provide significant new information on the farming practices of prehistoric people in the islands.
|OxA-10089||peat, 5011, 20–21cm, δ13C = −27.9‰||234 ± 34|
|OxA-10090||peat, 5012, 59–60cm, δ13C = −27.2‰||1628 ± 37|
|OxA-10091||peat, 5009, 104–105cm, δ13C = −28.7‰||2222 ± 37|
|OxA-10118||peat, 14004, 20–2lcm, δ13C = −26.4‰||1370 ± 40|
|OxA-10119||peat, 14005, 34–35cm, δ13C = −28.2‰||1805 ± 45|
|OxA-10120||peat, 14007, 52–53cm, δ13C = −29.9‰||2380 ± 40|
Comment (P. A.): preliminary pollen analysis indicates a transition from cereal growing to mixed farming, to a final phase of reliance only on animal stocking, as the climate deteriorated and peat growth began, followed by the abandonment of the field system. The AMS determinations from peat columns west of the main stone setting at Calanais (Callanish) suggests that blanket peat did not start to form there until about some time in the second or third quarter of the first millennium BC, sealing underlying stone structure and fields.
This site will be significant for interpreting the inception of complex Atlantic roundhouses, and the reorganisation of the social and economic systems this entailed in the first millennium BC. The surviving peat appears to include a record stretching at least until after the middle of the first millennium AD.
Callanish Kerb Cairn
Samples of charred seeds from Callanish Kerb Cairn, (NGR NB 21793473) Scotland, submitted by T. Neighbour, Centre for Field Archaeology, Old High School, Infirmary Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1LT, through Historic Scotland.
|OxA-9865||Hordeum sp. charred seed, C.121b, δ13C = −22.5‰||3310 ± 45|
|OxA-9866||Hordeum sp. charred seed, C.129a, δ13C = −23.3‰||3325 ± 40|
|OxA-9867||Hordeum sp. charred seed, C.135a, δ13C = −23.4‰||3295 ± 40|
|OxA-9868||Hordeum sp. charred seed, C.135b, δ13C = −24.5‰||3385 ± 45|
|OxA-9869||Hordeum sp. charred seed, C.181a, δ13C = −21.5‰||3355 ± 45|
|OxA-9870||Hordeum sp. charred seed, C.181b, δ13C = −22.2‰||3433 ± 39|
|OxA-9903||Hordeum sp. charred seed, C.121a, δ13C = −24.1‰||3418 ± 38|
|OxA-9931||Hordeum sp. charred seed, C.129b, δ13C = −22.6‰||4225 ± 85|
Comment (T. N.): three of the eight charred barley ages from the Callanish kerb cairn suggest that the main period of kerb cairn construction dates to around the end of the first quarter of the second millennium BC, while two dates around the second quarter suggest that the site, if not the kerb cairn, remained in use for at least a few generations. A date in the first half of the third millennium BC from a grain in the central cist may suggest residual material from an earlier use of the site. The ages can be used to provide dates for the abundant pottery of the site and are of added interest given the large number of other funerary or ceremonial sites in the area, particularly since the cairn lies on the axis of the avenue of the main stone setting at Callanish a kilometre away.
Samples of charred seeds from the site Camas Daraich, Skye, Highland (NGR NG 56500050) Scotland, submitted by M. Cressey, Dept. Archaeol., Univ. Edinburgh, through Historic Scotland. Comments by P. Ashmore, Historic Scotland.
|OxA-9782||Corylus avellana charred seed, Sample 5, δ13C = −24.2‰||7670 ± 55|
|OxA-9783||Corylus avellana charred seed, Sample 6, δ13C = −25.1‰||7985 ± 50|
|OxA-9784||Corylus avellana charred seed, CD 15(B), δ13C = −25.4‰||7545 ± 55|
|OxA-9971||Corylus avellana charred seed, CD 15(A), δ13C = −27.4‰||7575 ± 75|
Comment (P. A.): three determinations each from a hazel nutshell, from hearth deposits and a layer full of similar material, suggest that this part of the hunter-gatherer site belongs around the third quarter of the seventh millennium BC. They and another date from fire-blackened soil rich in lithics from around the first quarter of the seventh millennium suggest that the flint technology is a local variant rather than unusually early. Although this site is not part of the regional ‘First Settlers’ project, which is discussed below, it helps to build a regional picture of hunter-gatherer industries, subsistence and mobility in the coastal areas of the south-west Highlands.
Ceann Nan Clachan
Samples from the site Ceann Nan Clachan, Vallay Strand, N Uist, Western Isles, (NGR NF 771739) Scotland, submitted by A. Dunwell, Centre for Field Archaeology, Univ. Edinburgh, through Historic Scotland. Comments by P. Ashmore, Historic Scotland.
|OxA-9831||Hordeum sp. charred seed, CNC SB C134, δ13C = −24.2‰||2469 ± 37|
|OxA-9969||Hordeum sp. charred seed, CNC SA C134, δ13C = −24.4‰||2475 ± 50|
|OxA-9970||Hordeum sp. charred seed, CNC SC C134, δ13C = −25.3‰||2360 ± 50|
|OxA-9985||pot residue, CNC SD C108, δ13C = −23.9‰||2450 ± 34|
Comment (P. A.): three determinations from a single grain of barley and a date from a pot residue suggest that a cellular building dates to between the early eighth and late fifth centuries BC. The dating is important because it shows that cellular buildings existed here in the early Iron Age.
Samples from the site Chapelfield, Cowie, Stirling, (NGR NS 8363 8951) Scotland, submitted by J. Atkinson, GUARD, Univ. Glasgow, through Historic Scotland. Comments by P. Ashmore, Historic Scotland.
|OxA-9233||Hordeum vulgare charred seed, 437/694d, δ13C = −23.2‰||136 ± 38|
|OxA-9234||Corylus nutshell, 432/694d, δ13C = −24.6‰||5085 ± 45|
|OxA-9235||charred seed, 267/008, δ13C = −23.1‰||214 ± 38|
|OxA-9298||Corylus charcoal, 235/018, δ13C = −26.4‰||7220 ± 80|
|OxA-9750||Conlus seed, CE95 267/008, δ13C = −24.5‰||5590 ± 55|
Comment (P. A.): eight determinations from Chapelfield, Cowie had previously been obtained from bulk samples each consisting of charcoal from wood of a single species. It seemed possible, analysing the results, that the contexts contained residual or intrusive material or both. Barley in features with fifth and sixth millennium BC dates from charcoal required explanation.
Five single entity determinations were obtained from ORAU. Large oak lumps from Pit I had previously suggested a date in the first half of the fifth millennium BC, but ORAU determinations showed that a piece of hazel dated to the third quarter of the fifth millennium BC, and that a grain of barley dated to after 1500 AD. A pine date from Pit I I had previously suggested a dale around the middle of the sixth millennium BC but two ORAU results suggested that it contained hazel dated to the first quarter of the fifth millennium and that a grain of barley dated to after 1670 AD. A large piece of hazel charcoal from the stake-lined Pit V was dated to around the end of the seventh millennium BC.
There was activity in several different periods at Chapelfield. The ORAU results make it clear that the barley which might otherwise have been taken to be unusually early was fairly recent and intrusive, and suggested that oak charcoal dated previously had been from the interior of an old tree.
Samples of bone from the site Cille Bhrea, Lemlair, Highland (NGR NH 57646148) Scotland, submitted by T. Rees, AOC Archaeology Group, The Schoolhouse, 4, Lochend Road, Leith, Edinburgh. EH6 8BR. through Historic Scotland. Comments by P. Ashmore, Historic Scotland.
|OxA-9882||human bone, 16/1, δ13C = −20.2‰||220 ± 35|
|OxA-9883||human bone, 27/1, δ13C = −20.5‰||149 ± 38|
|OxA-9884||human bone. 32/1, δ13C = −20.2‰||235 ± 36|
|OxA-9885||human bone, 37/1, δ13C = −20.6‰||226 ± 37|
|OxA-9886||human bone, 94/1, δ13C = −20.4‰||149 ± 35|
|OxA-9887||human bone. 102/1, δ13C = −20.9‰||250 ± 35|
|OxA-9917||human bone. 105/1, δ13C = −20.6‰||246 ± 35|
|OxA-10010||human bone. 63/1, δ13C = −20.9‰||1230 ± 45|
Comment (P. A.): seven of eight determinations from human hone from a cemetery in a non-rectilinear enclosure at a small chapel on the coast suggested that most of the skeletons dale to after 1500 AD. One burial was dated to between the late seventh and mid tenth centuries AD. All of the bones had δ13C values suggesting a wholly terrestrial diet.
Samples of charcoal and wood from the site Cleuchbrae, Annandale, Dumfries and Galloway (NGR NY 10359330) Scotland, submitted by J. Duncan, GUARD, Dept. Archaeol, Univ. Glasgow, through Historic-Scotland. Comments by P. Ashmore, Historic Scotland.
|OxA-8800||Betula wood. 104, δ13C = −28.5‰||2885 ± 45|
|OxA-8801||Corylus charcoal, 17, δ13C = −26.5‰||3115 ± 40|
|OxA-8832||Quercus wood, 1012, δ13C = −26.9‰||3055 ± 45|
|OxA-8833||Corylus charcoal, 19, δ13C = −25.4‰||3380 ± 40|
Comment (P. A.): four determinations from a burnt mound with a wooden trough suggested activity of at least two different periods. Hazel charcoal from an early context suggested a date in the second quarter of the second millennium BC, the outer rings of the trough itself date to the third quarter or early in the last quarter while a nearby slender birch stake dates to the last quarter or slightly later and its date is significantly different from that of the trough. The burnt mound dates are similar to those of earlier burnt mounds elsewhere in Scotland and comparable to the earliest dates from platform settlements.
Cnip, Isle of Lewis
A sample of bone from the site Cnip, Isle of Lewis, Western Isles (NGR NB 099 364) Scotland, submitted by T. Neighbour, Centre for Field Archaeology, Old High School, Infirmary Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1LT, through Historic Scotland. Comments by P. Ashmore, Historic Scotland.
|OxA-9604||human bone, burial A, δ13C = −17.0‰||1332 ± 40|
Comment (P. A.): this determination from an inhumation (burial A) in the machair has an enriched δ13C value (–17‰) suggesting that it incorporates a significant marine effect; it is thus at 640–780 cal AD probably earlier than it should be.
Coast Road, Longniddry
Samples of bone from the site Coast Road, Longniddry, East Lothian (NGR NT 44187709) Scotland, submitted by L. Baker, Headland Archaeology, 13 Jane Street, Edinburgh EH6 SHE, through Historic Scotland. Comments by P. Ashmore, Historic Scotland.
|OxA-10034||human bone, skeleton 4/017, δ13C = −20.2‰||3274 ± 39|
|OxA-10088||human bone, skeleton 2/009, δ13C = −20.4‰||3152 ± 39|
Comment (P. A.): two determinations from human bone, from a small cemetery of crouched burials, suggested that a crouched burial in a cist dated to between the early seventeenth and mid fifteenth centuries BC, while a crouched burial in a grave dated to between the late sixteenth and late fourteenth centuries BC.
Samples of seeds from the site Cramond, Edinburgh (NGR NT 18987697), Scotland, submitted by J. Lawson, City of Edinburgh Council, Archaeology Service, 10 Broughton Market, Edinburgh, EH3 6NU, through Historic Scotland. Comments by P. Ashmore, Historic Scotland.
|OxA-10143||hazelnut shell, CR95/74/1409, δ13C = −23.5‰||9150 ± 45|
|OxA-10144||hazelnut shell. CR95/283/1402 M, δ13C = −23.1‰||9110 ± 60|
|OxA-10145||hazelnut shell, CR95/291/1409, δ13C = −24.9‰||9230 ± 50|
|OxA-10178||hazelnut shell, CR95/956/1426 M, δ13C = −23.3‰||9105 ± 65|
|OxA-10179||hazelnut shell, CR95/958/1426 K, δ13C = −23.9‰||9130 ± 65|
|OxA-10180||hazelnut shell, CR95/1066/1431, δ13C = −26.0‰||9250 ± 60|
Comment (P. A.): six determinations each determined from single hazel nutshells showed that this is by a small margin the earliest known securely dated hunter-gatherer site in Scotland. The calendar dates suggest a short period of occupation of this coastal site, very likely to be earlier than 8300 BC and maybe as early as 8600 BC with activities including flint chipping and pit-digging. Comparable, albeit somewhat late, dates have been obtained from near Biggar and from fife Ness, with Kinloch on Rum probably slightly later.
Dunadd Environs, Kilmartin
Twelve plant macrofossil samples, monocotyledon fragments, leaf and twigs of bog myrtle and Betulaceae, and fruits of Carex rostrata, from a peat core in an abandoned river meander of the River Add. Situated about 500 m west of the early medieval defended royal centre of Dunadd in mid-Argyll, the c. 3.5 m of organic sedimentation provides a high resolution palaeoenvironmental record for the last two millennia in the Kilmartin Glen (NGR NR 83189363). Recovered in June 1999, the samples were submitted for dating in 2000 by J. J. Miller, Glasgow Univ. Archaeol. Res. Div. (GUARD) and R. A. Housley, Dept. Archaeol., Univ. Glasgow, through Historic Scotland.
|OxA-9359||core 3, 24–25cm, monocotyledon fragments, δ13C = −28.6‰||831 ± 35|
|OxA-9405||core 3, 56–57cm, monocotyledon fragments, δ13C = −28.1‰||556 ± 36|
|OxA-9360||core 3, 84–85cm, monocotyledon fragments, δ13C = −27.3‰||945 ± 45|
|OxA-9598||core 3, 104–105cm, Myrica gale twigs, δ13C = −27.6‰||1255 ± 40|
|OxA-9599||core 3, 132–133cm, monocotyledon fragments, δ13C = −25.4‰||1260 ± 34|
|OxA-9600||core 3, 164–165cm, monocotyledon fragments, δ13C = −25.8‰||1525 ± 37|
|OxA-9601||core 3, 188–189cm, monocotyledon fragments, δ13C = −21.0‰||1642 ± 36|
|OxA-9406||core 3, 204–205cm. Carex roatrala, δ13C = −27.0‰||1807 ± 39|
|OxA-9381||core 3, 228–229cm, δicotyledon fragments, δ13C = −27.6‰||2125 ± 45|
|OxA-9382||core 3, 268–269cm, monocotyledon fragments, δ13C = −28.0‰||2380 ± 45|
|OxA-9407||core 3, 300–301cm, Betulaceae leaf, δ13C = −27.5‰||1940 ± 39|
|Ox A-10006||core 3, 336–337cm, Betulaceae twig, δ13C = −28.2‰||1850 ± 37|
Comment (R. A. H.): the high sediment accumulation rate (6–8 calendar years per cm depth) of the former river channel provides the setting for a detailed pollen (core 2) and plant macrofossil (core 3) study (Housley et al, forthcoming) that focuses on human impact, land use and vegetation history in the last two millennia.
In general, once mineral deposition had ceased above 210 cm depth the rate of peat accumulation was relatively stable and the individual AMS determinations form a coherent chronological sequence. Problems with two inverted measurements (OxA-9381 and −9382) may reflect a degree of re-working associated with rapid mineral inwash before the final abandonment of the meander; the river current being responsible for transporting older re-worked organic material and alluvium from higher in the catchment. A similar dating inversion problem was observed at Buiston crannog (Crone 2000, 36–41), again associated with minerogenic sedimentation and possibly for the same reasons. A third problematic age measurement from the top of the sequence (OxA-9359) may be the result of recent activity on the sampling site, possibly animal trampling in that the sample came from a shallow depth from core 3. Disturbance from shallow drainage ditches is also visible on a 1948 aerial photograph. Given the soft condition of the meander surface deposits, some degree of physical disturbance could have occurred. However the pollen and plant macrofossil evidence that was taken from a separate monolith adjacent to the coring locality does not show disturbance, suggesting the extent of any such trampling was restricted.
The plant macrofossils show very localised vegetational changes associated with the hydrology reflecting, at least in part, the hydroseral succession but also the general fluvial history of the River Add and relative sea-levels. The pollen is more regional and shows that the Kilmartin Glen had already undergone considerable woodland clearance by the start of the first millennium AD. There is a notable decrease in woodland taxa, particularly alder, immediately prior to the start of the main occupation period of Dunadd (c. 600–900 AD) which is marked by minor increases in microscopic charcoal and a peak in the pollen of willow. Until the last two centuries land use indicators are overwhelmingly pastoral rather than arable, although this is not surprising given the locally wet conditions and the close proximity of the Moine Mhor (a large lowland raised mire). Although there are minor vegetational changes contemporary with the use of Dunadd as the inaugural site of the rulers of the Scottish kingdom of Dál Riata, the overall impression is one of land use continuity both during and after this period of royal use. In fact what appears to have had far more impact on the Kilmartin area was the opening up of the Highlands for commercial exploitation from the eighteenth century when major environmental changes are observable.
Fordhouse Barrow, Dun
Samples from Fordhouse Barrow, Dun, Angus (NGR NO 66586053), Scotland, submitted by E. Proudfoot, St. Andrews Heritage Services, 12 Wardlow Gardens, St. Andrews, fife. KY16 9DW, through Historic Scotland. Comments by P. Ashmore, Historic Scotland.
|OxA-8222||Quercus sp. charcoal, 2781, δ13C= −24.4‰||5035 ± 40|
|OxA-8223||Quercus sp. charcoal, 2815, δ13C = −24.9‰||4920 ± 45|
|OxA-8224||Quercus sp. charcoal. 2451, δ13C = −26.4‰||4965 ± 40|
|OxA-8225||charred hazelnut shell, 2952, δ13C = −23.1‰||8100 ± 45|
|OxA-8226||charred hazelnut shell. 2860, δ13C = −24.6‰||5660 ± 40|
|OxA-8593||human bone, 2942, δ13C = −25.5‰||2165 ± 70|
|OxA-8777||human bone, 3135, δ13C = −26.3‰||2050 ± 110|
|OxA-8844||human bone, 3060, δ13C = −26.6‰||2010 ± 120|
|OxA-10057||charred hazelnut shell, 2909/338, δ13C = −23.9‰||7890 ± 50|
|OxA-10058||charred hazelnut shell, 2950/330, δ13C = −25.1‰||7920 ± 50|
|OxA-10059||charred hazelnut shell, 2951/341, δ13C = −23.2‰||8255 ± 55|
|OxA-10060||charred hazelnut shell, 3049/602, δ13C = −23.5‰||5565 ± 45|
Comment (P. A.): twelve determinations from this important site which included a chambered burial mound and other structures relating to funerary activity showed that the site had been used many times over a period of about 5 to 6 millennia.
AMS results from hazel nutshell samples showed activity between the last half of the eighth millennium BC and the earlier third of the seventh millennium. However, a hazel nutshell in one of a series of Phase I pits with seven Arran pitchstone blades and a bifacial knife dated to the centuries either side of the middle of the fifth millennium BC suggested that this early archaeological phase contained material of different periods. This pre-cairn activity could be compared in date to that under a small long mound at Biggar Common in S Lanarkshire or to later activity under long cairns at Port Charlotte on Islay and Camster in Caithness, in that a major burial monument appears to have been built on an area previously used for purposes which are not clearly funerary.
Three determinations from oak planks used to build a structure in the phase 3B mound were in only slight disagreement with each other and suggest that it was built between 3800 and 3700 cal BC. This date suggests that Fordhouse is as early as any other well-dated burial mound in Scotland, and comparable in date to the early massive hall at Balbridie on Deeside. It contributes to a perception that current evidence is best interpreted as reflecting that in Scotland the first building of large structures, occurred a couple of centuries after 4000 BC rather than before 4000 BC. Less confidently, because of some earlier bulk charcoal dates for the use of pottery, it adds to the impression from single entity dates that the first widespread use of pottery also belongs about eight generations after 4000 BC.
A hazel nutshell fragment from the blocking of the chambered cairn passage was dated to the two centuries after the middle of the fifth millennium BC and was probably residual from activities contemporary with the Phase I pits.
Three determinations in the last few centuries BC were obtained from cremated human bone. However, one was in a complete collared urn in a cairn of phase 6 and the other two in contexts which also seemed likely to belong much earlier, and it seems certain that all three dates reflect contamination with later carbon. An AMS result subsequently obtained from the Groningen laboratory by the National Museums of Scotland, from the carbonate fraction of bio-apatite in cremated bone from the urn (Sheridan pers. comm.), suggests a date in the second quarter of the second millennium BC.
Galson, Isle of Lewis
Samples of bone from Galson, Isle of Lewis, Western Isles (NGR NB 436594), Scotland, submitted by T. Neighbour, Centre for field Archaeology, Old High School, Infirmary Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1LT, through Historic Scotland. Comments by P. Ashmore, Historic Scotland.
|OxA-10164||human bone, Gals II, δ13C = −20.1‰||1895 ± 36|
|OxA-10165||human bone, Gals III, δ13C = −19.8‰||1848 ± 36|
|OxA-10166||human bone. Gals IV, δ13C = −20.1‰||1858 ± 34|
Comment (P. A.): re-dating of human bone from three inhumations within a long cist cemetery provided results 136, 2137 and 136 14C years later than those originally obtained. In two cases they suggest burial in the first to early third centuries AD, and in the other burial between the first and early fourth centuries AD. The three new measurements are conformable with three others obtained earlier from other burials. The results are particularly interesting because they suggest that the burials in this long cist cemetery were as early as or earlier than burials in long cist cemeteries in eastern Scotland. They also support the possibility that a date from an inhumation at Buckquoy in Orkney may be similarly early, although the matter must remain open pending re-dating of the Buckquoy skeleton.
Samples of peat and charcoal from Garvald Burn, East Lothian (NGR NT 10154865) Scotland, submitted by C. Barrowman, Archaeol. Dept., Gregory Building, Lilybank Gardens, Univ. Glasgow, through Historic-Scotland.
|OxA-10280||peat, Monocot fragment GBOO/Monolith tin 3, δ13C = −27.8‰||5000 ± 45|
|OxA-10449||charcoal, Betula GBOO/CS4/402, δ13C = −24.4‰||4865 ± 40|
Comment (C. B.): the date from the charcoal which relates to the knapping floor fits in well with the original hypothesis of a late Mesolithic assemblage based on typological grounds from a cursory analysis of the assemblage. The date from the monolith tin collected from the peat bog immediately adjacent to the site, indicates that peat formation started around the same time as the late Mesolithic activity at Garvald Burn. Further environmental analysis from the peat sample will therefore give an indication of the natural environment during the late Mesolithic at Garvald Burn. Further dates are obviously necessary to confirm these results, and samples will be submitted post-excavation.
Sample of charcoal from the site Glennan, Kilmartin, Argyll and Bute (NGR NM 86220097) Scotland, submitted by G. MacGregor, GUARD, Univ. Glasgow, through Historic Scotland. Comments by P. Ashmore, Historic Scotland.
|Ox A-10281||Ericaceae charcoal, GUA 920.2/GLE001/004, δ13C = −24.9‰||700 ± 33|
Comment (P. A.): a single charred heather twig from sample, apparently part of the charcoal with a cremation deposit in a broken inverted urn in a small shelter in scree, produced a medieval date. Subsequent dating of a piece of charred hazel roundwood by another laboratory produced an equally curious result in the latter half of the fourth millennium BC. It is notable that if a date had been obtained from a bulked together sample of charcoal a ‘credible’ date for the pot might have been produced. The heather may reflect disturbance in the medieval period or later. Could the hazel date reflect use of ancient waterlogged wattle from a wetland deposit?
Home Farm, Castle Menzies
Samples of charcoal and charred seeds from Home Farm, Castle Menzies, Perth and Kinross (NGR NN 83054935), Scotland, submitted by S. Carter, Headland Archaeology, 13 Jane Street, Edinburgh EH6 SHE. through Historic Scotland. Comments by P. Ashmore, Historic Scotland.
|OxA-9811||Corylus sp. charcoal, HCM99 001/027, δ13C = −24.7‰||4701 ± 38|
|OxA-9812||charred barley seeds, HCM99 011/071, δ13C = −24.4‰||1571 ± 36|
|OxA-9813||Quercus sp. charcoal, HCM99 024/124, δ13C = −24.5‰||5130 ± 40|
|OxA-9814||Quercus sp. charcoal, HCM99 047/433, δ13C = −24.5‰||5010 ± 40|
|OxA-9815||Quercus sp. charcoal, HCM99 067/453, δ13C = −24.0‰||7030 ± 45|
|OxA-9816||Quercus sp. charcoal, HCM99 073/466, δ13C = −25.6‰||5035 ± 70|
|OxA-9854||charred barley seeds, HCM99 005/067, δ13C = −24.4‰||2705 ± 50|
|OxA-9987||Quercus sp. charcoal, HCM99 003/037, δ13C = −24.9‰||5093 ± 39|
Comment (P. A.): eight determinations from single pieces of charred material from pits and postholes suggested at least five different periods of activity. Four pits which did not form part of recognisable structures produced a variety of results, in the first quarter of the sixth millennium BC (charcoal), broadly around the middle of the fourth millennium BC (charcoal), the first quarter of the first millennium BC (barley) and the middle of the first millennium AD (barley). Four probable postholes forming parts of alignments and an arc of postholes produced broadly similar dates in the first quarter of the fifth millennium BC. Technically the difference between these latter overall is not statistically significant. The earliest age (from an alignment) and the latest (from the arc) are significantly different if compared to each other in isolation from the rest of the ages. Combining the three ages from the arc of postholes produces a weighted mean age which is not significantly different from that of the alignment.
Haddington Mains Cist
Sample from Haddington Mains Cist, East Lothian (NGR NT 35366751) Scotland, submitted by J. Lawson, City of Edinburgh Archaeology Service, 10 Broughton Market, Edinburgh, EH3 6NU, through Historic Scotland. Comments by P. Ashmore, Historic Scotland.
|OxA-10254||human bone, HAF99/005, δ13C = −21.0‰||3945 ± 40|
Comment (P. A.): a bone from an adult female crouched inhumation in a short cist, accompanied by a beaker and a shoulder-joint of pork, produced a calibrated result around the third quarter of the third millennium BC. One interest of the burial is the occurrence of the pork joint, as seen in several other short cist burials in the east and south-east of Scotland. Another is that the typology of the beaker would traditionally have suggested a considerably later date.
Holm of Papa Westray North
Samples from Holm of Papa Westray, Orkney Islands (NGR HY 50445228), Scotland, submitted by Anna Ritchie, 50/1 Spylaw Road, Edinburgh, EH10 5BL, through Historic Scotland. Comments by P. Ashmore, Historic Scotland.
|OxA-9752||red deer antler, Trench V, layer 1, δ13C = −20.4‰||4250 ± 45|
|OxA-9753||sheep bone, Trench V, layer 2, δ13C = −18.8‰||4225 ± 50|
|OxA-9832||red deer antler, Trench 15, layer 1, δ13C = −20.7‰||4235 ± 45|
|OxA-9833||bone, sheep, Trench 15, layer 3, δ13C = −12.8‰||4585 ± 40|
|OxA-9834||bone, sheep, Trench IV, layer 1(2), δ13C = −14.6‰||4440 ± 40|
|OxA-9871||bone, otter, Trench 15, layer 2, δ13C = −11.3‰||4680 ± 50|
|OxA-9872||bone, red deer, Trench IV, layer 1(1), δ13C = −21.0‰||3855 ± 45|
Comment (P. A.): previously obtained determinations had suggested that burials took place in the tomb at some time during the last third of the fourth millennium or the first century of the third millennium BC.
Seven determinations were obtained, related to late use of the chambered tomb. Two of the three ages related to filling of the end chamber of the tomb were from animals which had a wholly or partially marine diet. The other date, from a red deer bone, suggests that the end chamber was filled up in the first third of the third millennium BC. A sheep bone from the forecourt shows a slight marine effect but ages from it and a piece of red deer antler both suggest a similar date for use of the forecourt. Similarly one of the two ages from a midden adjacent to the kerb of the back of the chambered cairn containing grooved ware and beaker was from a sheep which had a wholly or partially marine diet. The other age, from a red deer bone, suggests that the midden, which contained grooved ware and beaker, accumulated, at least in part, centuries later in the third quarter of the third millennium BC or slightly later.
These determinations from animal bones are of interest in showing closure of a stalled tomb at a date similar to those from animal bones in three tombs with broadly similar characteristics on another Orkney Island, Rousay (Renfrew 1979, 206). At Point of Cott, on Westray, animal bones from the tomb were dated consistently later than adult human bones. Intriguing questions about the late use of tombs arise from these observations.
Some of the animal bones produced δ13C measurements of particular interest for their implications about animal diet. An otter, with a δ13C value of −11.3‰, had perhaps unsurprisingly probably lived largely on marine fish and possibly also shellfish while one sheep from the end-cell, compartment 5 of the cairn, with a value of −12.8‰, and the juvenile sheep with a value of −14.6‰ from the midden, had probably suckled ewes which had a high component of sea weed in their diets. Two bones from red deer produced δ13C values implying a wholly terrestrial diet. The otter and sheep ages should be corrected for the marine effect but it is uncertain whether a proportion of Harkness's (1983) correction of 405 years can be applied, not only because of possible variations in the marine effect but also because it is based on comparisons between terrestrial material and shellfish, and shellfish have different metabolic pathways from fish, otters, seaweed and sheep.
Geoarchaeological recording of valley floor sediment fills along the middle course of the River Kelvin, between Kirkintilloch and Kilsyth in central Scotland was undertaken in 1998 and 1999 to investigate the potential for the preservation of archaeological features beneath the floodplain surface, to advise on the development of mitigation strategies in future civil engineering works, and to identify the palaeoenvironmental value of the deposits, five detailed transects across the floodplain were made between Inchbelle Farm (NGR NS 666752) and Twechar (NGR NS 699759), from west to east: at Inchbelle Farm (NGR NS 666752), Bridgend Farm I (NGR NS 671752), Bridgend Farm II (NGR NS 673752), Twechar I (NGR NS 692759), Twechar II (NGR NS 695761).
A Slitz corer with chamber length of 1 m (internal diameter 6 cm) powered by a Cobra petrol-driven engine was used to extract most of the cores. Organic units within the deep alluvial fills were logged and critically evaluated as to context, in situ occurrence, stratigraphic significance, composition and organic content: 38 organic contexts logged were reduced to 12 secure chronological index-points. Samples for AMS 14C assays on bulk organic sediment were submitted by R. Tipping, Dept. Environ. Sci., Univ. Stirling, through Historic Scotland. Comments by P. Ashmore. Historic Scotland.
|OxA-9808||Inchbelle, very humified peat, 6a(i), c.34.50 m OD, δ13C = −27.5‰||6315 ± 45|
|OxA-9986||Inchbelle, very humified peat, 6a(ii), c.36.20 m OD, δ13C = −27.5‰||8575 ± 55|
|OxA-9786||Bridgend I, large % wood fragments and small number of seeds within humified material, 2b(iii), c. 33.80 m OD, δ13C = −28.4‰||9540 ± 55|
|OxA-9787||Bridgend I, large % wood fragments and small number of seeds within humified material, 2e(iii). c. 34.60 m OD, δ13C = −26.7‰||8155 ± 55|
|OxA-9807||Bridgend I, very humified peat, 2b(ii), c. 34.70 m OD, δ13C = −27.3‰||5990 ± 45|
|OxA-9785||Bridgend I, very humified peat. 2a(ii), c. 34.95 m OD, δ13C = −27.9‰||4970 ± 45|
|OxA-9789||Bridgend II, very humified peat, 4a(iv), c. 32.85 m OD, δ13C = −30.8‰||10020 ± 60|
|OxA-9791||Bridgend II, very humified peat. 4c(iii), c. 33.20 m OD, δ13C = −27.9‰||8505 ± 50|
|OxA-9788||Bridgend II, poorly humified peat with a few seeds. 4a(iii), c. 33.45 m OD, δ13C = −26.6‰||7870 ± 55|
|OxA-9790||Bridgend II, poorly humified peat, 4b(in), c. 33.90 m OD, δ13C = −27.6‰||9890 ± 90|
|OxA-9809||Twechar I, very humified peat. IIa, c. 33.10 m OD, δ13C = −27.7‰||9325 ± 55|
|OxA-9810||Twechar I, very humified peat with occasional wood fragments, IIa(iii), c. 34.50 m OD, δ13C = −27.0‰||5775 ± 45|
Comment (R. T.): four AMS determinations from Bridgend I showed initiation of valley-floor peat at various ages between about the last quarter of the tenth millennium BC or first third of the ninth millennium and the first third of the fourth millennium BC. At Bridgend II the earliest laterally extensive valley-floor peat was dated to the first three-quarters of the tenth millennium BC while a later phase of peat was dated to around the middle of the eight millennium. Laterally extensive minerogenie over-bank sediments were dated to the fist half of the seventh millennium BC. At Inchbelle, replacement of valley floor peat by mineral sediments indicating increased fluvial activity was dated to the second quarter of the eighth millennium BC and replacement of alluvial sediments by peat and a reduction in fluvial activity was dated to the last half of the sixth millennium BC. At Twechar I the onset of laterally extensive valley floor peat was dated to the middle third of the ninth millennium BC, or slightly earlier, and a reduction of minerogenic over-bank fluvial deposition was dated to the second quarter of the fifth millennium BC.
All the peats 14C dated in the Kelvin Valley are of early-mid Holocene age. Many peats near the bases of the sampled sediment sequences are dated to the first 1000 or so years after the Younger Dryas Sladial, following 14–15 m of incision from fluvioglacial terraces (OxA-9786, −9789, −9790, −9809). This is a very significant result because it shows that in this region peat accumulated on valley floors from the earliest Holocene, and was probably originally of great lateral extent. Above this wide early Holocene floodplain surface, the transects suggest that no significant net aggradation of sediment occurred in the early-mid Holocene. 14C samples at comparable depths have different ages and erosion may have more-or-less equalled sediment accumulation. The uppermost organic units are of mid-Holocene age (OxA-9808, −9807, −9785, −9810), and above these c. 2–2.5 m of fine-grained minerogenie sediments have accumulated, not noticeably faster than in the early Holocene.
The sequence shows that fluvial sediments just below the present floodplain surface have considerable antiquity, and are not recent deposits. They have a high potential for the preservation of archaeological features, although very few have been recovered in recent excavation.
Samples of wood from Kilmore, Oban, Argyll and Bute (NGR NM 88202528), Scotland submitted by J. C. Bonsall, Dept. Archueol., Univ. Edinburgh, through Historic Scotland. Comments by P. Ashmore, Historic Scotland.
|OxA-8437||Betula sp. wood, ObKIL/01, δ13C= −26.0‰||1400 ± 40|
|OxA-8534||Fraxinus excelsior wood, ObKIL/02, δ13C= −24.9‰||1585 ± 45|
Comment (P. A.): two determinations from ash and from birch showed that an otherwise completely undated timber platform belonged in the third quarter of the first millennium AD.
Knap of Howar
Samples from Knap of Howar, Papa Westray, Orkney Islands (NGR HY 48305180) Scotland, submitted by A. Ritchie, 50/1 Spylaw Road, Edinburgh, EH10 5BL, through Historic Scotland. Comments by P. Ashmore, Historic Scotland.
|OxA-9754||sheep bone, House 1, layer 9, δ13C = −20.5‰||4720 ± 50|
|OxA-9755||sheep/goat bone, House 1, layer 16, δ13C = −18.8‰||4630 ± 50|
|OxA-9756||Caprinus bone, House 2, passage B layer 4, δ13C = −19.9‰||4495 ± 50|
|OxA-9757||cattle bone, House 2, layer 7, δ13C = −20.6‰||4680 ± 50|
|OxA-9758||Caprinus bone, House 2, layer 12, δ13C = −19.7‰||4570 ± 50|
|OxA-9759||sheep bone, Trench III, layer 3, δ13C = −18.9‰||4800 ± 45|
|OxA-9760||pig bone, Trench III, layer 4, δ13C = −20.1‰||4750 ± 50|
|OxA-9761||Caprinus bone, Trench V, layer 2, δ13C = −20.7‰||4610 ± 50|
Comments (P. A.): eight determinations were obtained from single bones. Two from the secondary floors of House 2 show that the material in the floor included residual bones of significantly older date than the youngest bones in the floor.
Theoretically, since all of the determinations have to be treated as termini post quern, the house could have been built and used at any time later than the radiocarbon ages imply, perhaps entirely within the period when grooved ware was in use at Barnhouse, Skara Brae 1 and Stenness (Ashmore 2000, figure 26.2). All that can be said is that there is absolutely no evidence from the new determination that it was. The most plausible interpretation of the new set of results is that Knap of Howar was built about 3500 BC and continued in use until some time between 3400 and 3100 BC.
Because the primary midden at Knap of Howar is older than the structure, even the early house contexts may contain bones which were old at the time the structure was built. A previous set of radiocarbon determinations (Birmingham and SRR) consisted of ages each from combined bone samples. Any of those analyses may thus represent a fairly meaningless average of the ages of bones of significantly different date. Also, errors were higher than realised at the time. An attempt to find new samples directly relatable to the old ones was not very successful. The overall impression from the new suite of determinations is that the old ones included much large random errors than those quoted but no significantly large systematic error.
Samples from the site Littleour, Perth and Kinross (NGR NO 17344024) Scotland, submitted by G. Barclay, Historic Scotland, Edinburgh. Comments by P. Ashmore, Historic Scotland.
|OxA-8992||pot residue, L23, Pot 3, find II, δ13C = −27.9‰||4110 ± 55|
|OxA-8993||pot residue, L23, Pot 6, find 33, δ13C = −26.6‰||3845 ± 75|
|OxA-8994||pot residue, L23, Pot 2, find 28+10, δ13C = −26.1‰||3880 ± 55|
Comment: (P. A.): three determinations were obtained from carbonised organic encrustation on three sherds of Grooved Ware from a pit possibly related to a timber enclosure previously dated from charcoal to the last third of the third millennium BC. Two of the new ages suggested dates in the last half of the third millennium agreeing well with the charcoal determination and suggesting that the pit may date to between about 2400 and 2150 BC to the nearest half century. The other however is statistically highly incompatible with the others, and suggests a date in the first half of the third millennium BC. There seem to be two possibilities. One is that the pit incorporated potsherds significantly older than the pit, and the other is that residues can pick up environmental carbon which will provide an age older than the true age of the residue. It is difficult to choose between these possibilities, because of the presence of the possibly related timber enclosure which (judging by a date from charcoal interpreted as the charred outer skin of an oak post) may date to the second half of the fourth millennium BC, and which is of a type associated with broadly similar pottery.
Loch Borralie, Durness
A sample of bone from Loch Borralie, Durness, Highland (NGR NN 37906761) Scotland, submitted by G. MacGregor, GUARD, Univ. Glasgow. Comments by P. Ashmore, Historic Scotland.
|OxA-10253||human bone, GUARD 918.2/006, δ13C = −20.2‰||1931 ± 37|
Comment (P. A.): an extended inhumation at a multi-phase cairn under sand was dated to between the second half of the first century AD and the beginning of the third.
Samples of bone from the site Lundin Links Pictish Cemetery, fife (NGR NO 405023) Scotland, submitted by P. Ashmore, Historic Scotland, Longmore House, Salisbury Place, Edinburgh, EH9 1SH.
|OxA-8895||human bone, 1980–728 LL5, δ13C = −20.6‰||1560 ± 40|
|OxA-8896||human bone, 1973–871 LL6, δ13C = −20.4‰||1455 ± 35|
|OxA-8897||human bone, 1980–718 LL8, δ13C = −20.6‰||1550 ± 35|
|OxA-8898||human bone, 1980–721 LL9, δ13C = −21.1‰||1600 ± 30|
|OxA-8899||human bone, 1980–720 LL10, δ13C = −20.8‰||1540 ± 35|
|OxA-8900||human bone, 1980–725 LL11, δ13C = −20.6‰||1565 ± 35|
|OxA-8901||human bone, 1973–861 LL13, δ13C = −20.8‰||1555 ± 35|
|OxA-8902||human bone, 1980–726 LL14, δ13C = −21.0‰||1465 ± 35|
|OxA-8903||human bone. 1980–727 LL18, δ13C = −20.8‰||1535 ± 35|
|OxA-8904||human bone. 1973–870 LL19, δ13C = −20.3‰||1610 ± 40|
Comment (P. A.): ten determinations were obtained from burials in a cemetery discovered in sand dunes near the shore of the firth of Forth. Some were from cists under low round cairns, others from cists under low rectilinear cairns and some were from isolated cists. Earlier attempts to date the cemetery had not been wholly successful. They gave rise to speculations about possible Iron Age origins and possible late first millennium AD survival of the cemetery. Analysis suggests that no significant information is lost by ignoring all of the dates obtained before 1999. The new determinations do not show any pattern of difference in results between the various types of burial. They imply that the cemetery was in use both before and after AD 540 and probably for about five to ten generations. None of the δ13C values from burials from this cemetery suggest any marine effect. Numerous early accounts of discoveries of burials to the east of the cemetery suggest that there was a long cist cemetery nearby.
Samples from the site Meadows, Dornoch. Highland (NGR NH 797895) Scotland, submitted by R. Coleman. SUAT Ltd., 55 South Methven Street, Perth, PH1 5NX, through Historic Scotland. Comments by P. Ashmore, Historic Scotland.
|OxA-9349||charred barley seeds. DM01/97 03/17, δ13C = −24.8‰||1139 ± 37|
|OxA-9350||charred hazelnut shell, DM01/97 05/38, δ13C = −23.3‰||113 ± 31|
|OxA-9351||charred barley seeds, DM01/97 07/45, δ13C = −24.1‰||1121 ± 35|
|OxA-9352||charred barley seeds, DM01/97 08/53, δ13C = −23.6‰||1129 ± 33|
|OxA-9353||charred barley seeds, DM01/97 13/56, δ13C = −23.0‰||1247 ± 32|
|OxA-9513||charred barley seeds, DM01/97 10/58, δ13C = −22.9‰||1055 ± 55|
Comment (P. A.): six determinations were obtained from single hazelnut shells and grains of barley for a site including an enclosure containing a building and evidence for iron-working. One date gave a terminus post quern probably of the eighth or ninth century AD for the fill of a narrow ditch or gully cutting a pit full of slag and charcoal. Three other dates gave terminus post querns each in the ninth to tenth century for rough paving slabs marking the entrance into a building in an enclosure, a layer of metal-working debris which was cut by the enclosure ditch and the fill of a curvilinear ditch. A rectangular pit full of slag and charcoal and possibly hammer-scale, in an outer enclosure, contained a barley grain dated to between the late ninth century and the mid twelfth century AD and a possible anvil base in the enclosure contained a hazel nut shell of the fourteenth to mid fifteenth century. The site thus appears to have been long-lived and to have been used for metal-working both before and after it was enclosed.
Newark Bay, Deerness
Samples of human bone from Newark Bay, Deerness, Orkney Islands (NGR HY 5746 0413), Scotland, submitted by D. Brothwell, Dept. Archaeol., Univ. York, through Historic Scotland. Comments by P. Ashmore, Historic Scotland.
|OxA-10407||human bone, SK001, δ13C= −16.8‰||1070 ± 36|
|OxA-10408||human bone, SK004, δ13C= −18.4‰||1068 ± 36|
|OxA-10409||human bone, 99(6), δ13C= −16.8‰||1015 ± 37|
|OxA-10410||human bone, 69(87), δ13C= −14.2‰||1123 ± 36|
Comment (P. A.): four determinations were obtained from the cemetery associated with a chapel on the coast. The burial with the oldest 14C age had a δ13C value of about 14‰, suggesting a very high element of marine food in the diet. The two with intermediate 14C ages had δ13C values below 17‰ showing a marked element of marine food in the diet, and the fourth, with the youngest 14C age had about half as strong an element. The ages are therefore too old, but it is uncertain what proportion of Harkness's (1983) correction of 405 years can be applied, not only because of possible variations in the marine effect but also because it is based on comparisons between terrestrial material and shellfish, and shellfish have different metabolic pathways from fish and people. The bodies may all belong to the tenth to twelfth centuries, like the youngest one.
Sample of Patella vulgata shell Newbigging, Burntisland, fife (NGR NT 21378634), Scotland submitted by A. R. Rees, CFA, Old High School, 12 Infirmary Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1LT, through Historic Scotland. Comments by P. Ashmore, Historic Scotland.
|OxA-8843||Patella vulgata shell, AOC 1947/1, δ13C = 1.4‰||600 ± 35|
Comment (P. A.): a single AMS determination from a mussel shell showed that a midden scatter was post-Medieval in date.
Parks of Garden
Samples from Parks of Garden, Stirling (NGR NS 60389682), Scotland, submitted by C. Ellis, AOC Archaeology Group, The Schoolhouse, 4, Lochend Road, Edinburgh, EH6 8BR, through Historic Scotland. Comments by P. Ashmore, Historic Scotland.
|OxA-9289||Alnus glutinosa peat, 1/173, δ13C= −27.5‰||5153 ± 40|
|OxA-9613||Quercus sp., wood, AOC 3166 W67 F149, δ13C= −26.1‰||5080 ± 40|
|OxA-9751||Querent sp., wood, AOC 3166 W38 F106, δ13C = −23.3‰||4475 ± 45|
Comment (P. A.): nine radiocarbon determinations were obtained to improve understanding of a timber platform on the margin of Flanders Moss (see also Arch. List 28). Three results suggest that wood found in peat under the platform died in the first quarter of the fourth millennium BC, including an oak which may have fallen naturally. However, peat near the surface on which the platform was built dated to after the middle of the fourth millennium. Five determinations suggest that the platform itself and a large timber lying outside but overlapping it dated to the last third of the fourth millennium or the first century of the third.
Samples of various materials from Raschoille, Oban, Argyll and Bute (NGR NM 85472888), Scotland, submitted by J. C. Bonsall, Dept. Archaeol., Univ. Edinburgh, through Historic Scotland. Comments by P. Ashmore, Historic Scotland.
|OxA-8396||Cervus elaphus bone, OhRC/03, δ13C = −21.8‰||7640 ± 80|
|OxA-8839||Cerasloderma edule shell, ObRC/07a+07b, δ13C =3.0‰||7580 ± 45|
|OxA-8397||Cervus elaphus bone. ObRC/04, δ13C = −21.5‰||7575 ± 75|
|OxA-8395||Lynx lynx bone, ObRC/01, δ13C= −19.9‰||7495 ± 50|
|OxA-8398||Cervus elaphus bone, bevel ended tool, ObRC/05, δ13C = −21.6‰||7480 ± 75|
|OxA-8501||Cerastoderma edule shell. ObRC707a+07h, δ13C = 1.4‰||7390 ± 55|
|OxA-8840||Cerasloderma edule shell, ObRC/07a+07b, δ13C =2.6‰||7300 ± 50|
|OxA-8535||Cervus elaphus bone, bevel ended tool, ObRC/06, δ13C = −21.4‰||7265 ± 80|
|OxA-8439||charred Corylus avellana shell, ObRC/09, δ13C = −25.1‰||7250 ± 55|
|OxA-8538||Cervus elaphus bone, ObRC/02, δ13C = −22.1‰||6460 ± 180|
|OxA-8438||Corylus avellana charcoal, ObRC/08, δ13C = −26.3‰||5115 ± 55|
|OxA-8440||charred Corylus avellana shell, ObRC/10, δ13C = −21.8‰||4995 ± 45|
|OxA-8432||human bone, ObRC/18, δ13C = −20.4‰||4980 ± 50|
|OxA-8431||human bone, ObRC/16, δ13C = −20.6‰||4930 ± 50|
|OxA-8433||human bone, ObRC/19, δ13C = −20.2‰||4920 ± 50|
|OxA-8441||human bone, ObRC/21, δ13C = −21.2‰||4900 ± 45|
|OxA-8442||human bone. ObRC/22, δ13C = −21.0‰||4890 ± 45|
|OxA-8536||Corylus(?) charcoal. ObRC/11, δ13C = −27.2‰||4880 ± 60|
|OxA-8404||human bone. ObRC/17, δ13C = −21.6‰||4850 ± 70|
|OxA-8443||human bone, ObRC/23, δ13C = −20.4‰||4825 ± 55|
|OxA-8434||human bone, ObRC/20, δ13C = −21.1‰||4720 ± 50|
|OxA-8444||human bone, ObRC/24, δ13C = −21.1‰||4715 ± 45|
|OxA-8435||human bone. ObRC/25, δ13C = −22.5‰||4680 ± 50|
|OxA-8400||human bone, ObRC/14, δ13C = −20.3‰||4640 ± 65|
|OxA-8399||human bone, ObRC/12, δ13C = −21.4‰||4630 ± 65|
|OxA-8401||human bone, ObRC/15, δ13C = −21.1‰||4565 ± 65|
|OxA-8537||human bone, ObRC/13, δ13C = −21.8‰||4535 ± 50|
Comment (P. A.): the site is a cave close to the head of what would have been a marine bay in the earlier part of the Holocene. Twenty-seven determinations were obtained, three from marine shell, three from hazel. 14 from human bones, four from animal bones and two from bevel-ended tools. The deposits were roughly divided into lower and upper. When ordered from oldest to youngest the first 12 determinations came from the lowest deposits. All of these except the latest two dated to various ages between the last half of the seventh millennium and 5000 BC.
The three earliest results, excluding the cockle shell (Cerastoderma edule), are from animal bones (two from red deer and one from a lynx) and are not significantly ditferent from each other. They could all date to the third quarter of the seventh millennium BC. The next two, again excluding the Cerastoderma edule shells, are from the two bevel-ended tools. The difference between their ages is just significant, and they could both belong in the last third of the seventh millennium BC though one could be several decades earlier and the other several decades later. Their dates suggest that they are about a millennium younger than the oldest known Scottish examples. The next six determinations are all from hazel or cockle shell. The strength of the marine offset at this time is not known, but even if 400 14C years were subtracted from the cockle shell determinations they would still be earlier than the last two of these six (OxA-8438 and −8440). They were not significantly different from each other, and may both have dated to the first quarter of the fifth millennium BC.
The next I I determinations in order of descending radiocarbon age were all from human burials from upper deposits with the exception of a hazel twig from the lower deposits dating to the second quarter of the fourth millennium or slightly earlier. The human burials cannot all have been deposited at the same time as each other and indeed they almost give the impression of being successive burials over the period after the first quarter and before the last third of the fourth millennium BC.
The latest four determinations are also from human bones, three from the lower deposits and one from the upper. The two older bones probably come from the middle half of the fourth millennium and the two late from the second half (the plateau in the calibration curve between about 3400 and 3100 BC extends their calibrated ranges to the last century of the fourth millennium). Overall, the burials appear to be contemporary with chambered tombs.
Samples of human tooth and bone from Red Castle, Lunan Bay, Angus (NGR NO 68785085), Scotland submitted by D. Alexander, Centre for Field Archaeology, Old High School, 12 Infirmary Street, Edinburgh EH1 1LT, through Historic Scotland. Comments by P. Ashmore, Historic Scotland.
|OxA-10162||human bone, DS3 SB2 C087, δ13C = −20.5‰||1426 ± 36|
|OxA-10163||human bone, DS6 G030 C068, δ13C = −21.1‰||1661 ± 36|
|OxA-10167||human tooth, DS7 G030 C068, δ13C = −20.7‰||1544 ± 36|
Comment (P. A.): the site was a cemetery containing cropmark square and round barrows with cist burials under them and also cist burials without any evidence for covering mounds. Initially eight dates were obtained from human bone and teeth (see Arch. List 28) and then three more determinations were obtained to check the results.
The burial under round barrow 1 was dated to between the last quarter of the first century AD and the middle of the fourth century AD. That under round barrow 2 was dated to between the mid fifth century and the mid seventh century AD
Two determinations of bone from the burial under square barrow 1 were virtually identical and suggest that the burial dates to between the second quarter of the fifth century and the middle of the sixth century AD. The burial under square barrow 2 produced a significantly later date and a check date produced a virtually identical result suggesting that the burial dates to between the mid sixth century and the mid seventh century, and more likely the first half of the seventh century than earlier. The burial under square barrow 3 was dated to the seventh century AD.
A cist burial without any evidence for a covering mound initially produced conflicting results. A tooth had a significantly older age than a femur. Two fresh ages were obtained. One of the new ages, from a tooth (OxA-10167), may have been contaminated with younger material judging by stable isotope measurements. The other age, from a bone (OxA-10163), was very similar to the previous date from a tooth (OxA-8413), and they suggest that the burial dates to between the second half of the third and the middle of the fifth centuries AD. However, it is difficult to know which dates to trust. Since tooth enamel is suspected of producing aberrant dates the burial is possibly best dated by the second femur date (OxA-10163), for which stable isotope ratios were optimised, which suggests that it belongs between the mid third and mid sixth centuries AD.
The results from Red Castle suggest that it is sensible to obtain more than one date from burials with poorly preserved bone and that stable isotope ratios must be used to control the extraction of the fraction used for dating.
None of the δ13C values from burials from this cemetery suggest any marine effect.
Scotland's First Settlers project
The dates from Sand, Crowlin 1, Loch A Squir and Ashaig middens in SE Skye and the facing mainland are important not only in dating the sites and helping understanding of the stratigraphy (which had been expected to include redeposition at Sand and at Loch A Squir), but also in showing that the sites do not represent a fifth millennium increase in local populations which, it had been hypothesised, might have adopted a more sedentary way of life at about that time, perhaps leading to adoption of agriculture. Samples from Crowlin 1, Lochalsh, (NGR NG 691338), Loch A Squir, Raasay, (NGR NG 60845286), Ashaig 1, Lochalsh (NGR NG 2420) and Sand, Lochalsh, (NGR NG 68414934), Highland. Scotland, submitted by M. Cressey, Dept. Archaeol., Univ. Edinburgh, through Historic Scotland. Comments by P. Ashmore, Historic Scotland.
|OxA-9277||Betula sp. charcoal, SFS99 1/12, δ13C = −25.6‰||769 ± 36|
|OxA-9278||Corylus avellana charcoal. SFS99 1/4, δ13C = −26.4‰||771 ± 32|
|OxA-9279||Betula sp. charcoal, SFS99 1/6, δ13C = −27.1‰||723 ± 33|
Comment (P. A.): three pieces of charcoal were dated. They all probably belong to the thirteenth century (one possibly the fourteenth century) AD.
|Crowlin 1|| || |
|OxA-9250||Betula sp. charcoal, SFS99 3/4, δ13C = −27.7‰||1296 ± 39|
|OxA-9251||Betula sp. charcoal, SFS99 1/11, δ13C = −26.6‰||99 ± 37|
|OxA-9252||Betula sp. charcoal, SFS99 1/6, δ13C = −26.4‰||477 ± 35|
|OxA-9253||deer bone, SFS99 N11, δ13C = −20.9‰||316 ± 39|
Comment (P. A.): three determinations from single pieces of birch charcoal suggest early and middle first millennium AD and also fifteenth century AD activity. A result from a limpet scoop implies it dates to the fifteenth century AD. These samples had been expected to date to before about 4000 BC.
|Loch A Squir|| || |
|OxA-9254||Betula sp. charcoal, SFS99 1/6, δ13C = −26.5‰||2055 ± 39|
|OxA-9255||deer bone, SFS99 N25, δ13C = −21.6‰||7245 ± 55|
|OxA-9305||Betula sp. charcoal, SFS99 1/3, δ13C = −26.6‰||7620 ± 75|
Comment (P. A.): two of three determinations from this midden suggest seventh millennium activity at the site while the third from the lowest level suggests activity in the second or first century BC. It seems likely that the upper midden has been redeposited.
|Sand|| || |
|OxA-9280||antler, SFS99 9/8, δ13C = −21.8‰||7520 ± 50|
|OxA-9281||deer bone, SFS99 N19, δ13C = −21.3‰||7715 ± 55|
|OxA-9282||deer bone, SFS99 N18, δ13C = −20.8‰||7545 ± 50|
|OxA-9343||Betula sp. charcoal, SFS99 9/8, δ13C = −24.6‰||7765 ± 50|
|OxA-10152||mammal bone, B24A NE spit 8/013/N62, δ13C = −22.1‰||8470 ± 90|
|OxA-10175||mammal bone, B24B NE spit 7/013/N60, δ13C = −21.1‰||7825 ± 55|
|OxA-10176||mammal bone, A1B NE spit 9/022, δ13C = −20.9‰||6605 ± 50|
|OxA-10177||mammal bone, A2B SW spit 10/022, δ13C = −21.8‰||6485 ± 55|
|OxA-10384||mammal bone, 4A NE spit 4/013/N70, δ13C = −21.1‰||7855 ± 60|
Comment (P. A.): seven bevel-ended tools were dated. Three came from a loose unconsolidated limpet midden overlying a rockfall and covered by crushed shell and turf. One tool dates from the second or third quarter of the eighth millennium BC. Two tools date from the first half of the seventh millennium BC. Two tools from a shell-free organic midden overlying a sterile palaeosol and covered by the main shell midden are younger; the agreement between their ages is not very good but they suggest the midden dates to around the middle of the sixth millennium BC. Another tool from the midden dates to the third quarter of the seventh millennium. The seventh was dated to the centuries around the middle of the seventh millennium, while an antler and a birch sample from the same part of the midden dated to the centuries before and those after the middle of the seventh millennium.
Ten determinations were obtained for bloomeries and associated remains: Cladh Nan Sassunach, Highland (NGR NH 00706595), Fasagh Ironworks, Highland (NGR NH 011654), and Letterewe Ironworks, Loch Maree, Highland (NGR NG 958707), Allt Na Ceardaich, Argyll and Bute (NGR NS 142927) and Tamheich Burn, Argyll and Bute (NGR NS 03108225). Samples submitted by J. A. Atkinson, GUARD, Univ. Glasgow, through Historic Scotland. Comments by P. Ashmore, Historic Scotland.
Cladh Nan Sassunach
|OxA-9322||Pinus sylvestris charcoal, SBP/CS96/003/3008, δ13C= −23.8‰||428 ± 33|
Comment (P. A.): pine charcoal from a thick band of carbonised material in the coffin chamber of a grave in a graveyard, Cladh Nan Sassunach, by Fasagh ironworks was dated to between the second quarter of the fifteenth century and the first quarter of the seventeenth century AD.
|Fasagh ironworks|| || |
|OxA-9283||Pinus sylvestris charcoal, SBP/FA96/141/088, δ13C = −25.3‰||718 ± 36|
|OxA-9284||Pinus sylvestris charcoal, SBP/FA96/123/091, δ13C = −25.3‰||494 ± 32|
|OxA-9320||Betula sp. charcoal, SBP/FA96/001/055, δ13C = −25.1‰||539 ± 35|
|OxA-9321||Alnus charcoal, SBP/FA96/019/TPB2, δ13C = −28.5‰||337 ± 33|
Comment (P. A.): four 14C determinations were obtained. Pine charcoal (OxA-9283) from a band of silt (088) deposited as makeup in the central forge area of Fasagh ironworks was dated to the thirteenth or fourteenth centuries AD. Birch charcoal from the fill of a posthole below the central forge area and pine charcoal from a floor layer in the central forge area of Fasagh ironworks were dated to the fourteenth century or the first half of the fifteenth. Alder charcoal from a final dumping layer of the northern slag mound of Fasagh ironworks was dated between the last quarter of the fifteenth century and a decade before the middle of the seventeenth century AD.
The dates from these four sites demonstrate a flourishing later medieval primary iron-working industry in western Scotland. Their location presumably reflects the abundance of woodlands available for charcoal manufacture.
|OxA-9346||Betula sp. charcoal, SBP/LA98/011/103/104, δ13C = −26.1‰||437 ± 32|
Comment (P. A.): a single piece of birch charcoal (sample 011) from a thick band of charcoal and silt in a charcoal store south of the early blast furnace was dated to between the fifteenth and early seventeenth centuries AD.
|Allt Na Ceardaich|| || |
|OxA-9324||Alnus charcoal, SBP/AC96/028/020, δ13C = −26.5‰||452 ± 35|
|OxA-9344||Betula sp. charcoal, SBP/AC96/003/013, δ13C = −26.3‰||652 ± 34|
|OxA-9345||Betula sp. charcoal, SBP/AC96/10/50, δ13C = −27.9‰||680 ± 31|
Comment (P. A.): three determinations were obtained. Birch charcoal from the basal layer of the southern slag heap at the large bloomery furnace and another piece from a layer of material in a charcoal store at a large bloomery furnace were both dated to between the last quarter of the thirteenth and the end of the fourteenth centuries AD. Alder charcoal from a thin band of smithing waste from a hearth was dated to the fifteenth century.
|OxA-9323||Alnus charcoal, SBP/BP95/005/1014, δ13C = −26.8‰||410 ± 32|
Comment (P. A.): alder charcoal (sample 005) from the basal fill (1014) of a bloomery furnace was dated to between the second third of the fifteenth century and the first third of the seventeenth centuries AD.
Samples of bone and seeds from Silgenach, Western Isles (NGR NF725288), Scotland submitted by N. Sharpies, HISAR, Cardiff Univ., through Historic Scotland. Comments by P. Ashmore, Historic Scotland.
|OxA-8880||cattle bone, 1656, δ13C = −20.4‰||2385 ± 40|
|OxA-8881||cattle bone, 1660, δ13C = −20.5‰||2485 ± 35|
|OxA-8905||cattle bone, 1396, δ13C = −21.1‰||3875 ± 35|
|OxA-8920||cattle bone, 1318, δ13C = −20.9‰||3710 ± 45|
|OxA-8921||cattle hone, 1344, δ13C = −22.4‰||3665 ± 45|
|OxA-8922||cattle bone, 1632, δ13C = −20.4‰||2485 ± 40|
|OxA-8923||cattle bone, 1642, δ13C = −20.6‰||2410 ± 40|
|OxA-8924||red deer bone, 1648, δ13C = −21.2‰||2340 ± 55|
|OxA-8925||barley seed, 9002, δ13C = −23.3‰||3655 ± 45|
|OxA-8926||barley seed, 9021, δ13C = −23.0‰||3490 ± 40|
|OxA-8927||barley seed, 9023, δ13C = −23.1‰||3520 ± 50|
|OxA-8928||barley seed, 9031, δ13C = −23.6‰||3715 ± 45|
|OxA-8989||sheep bone, 1615, δ13C = −21.3‰||3565 ± 70|
|OxA-9006||cattle bone, 1392, δ13C = −20.7‰||3665 ± 45|
Comment (P. A.): fourteen determinations for single animal bones and barley grains from an area of deflating machair sites suggested dates for cultivation, occupation and butchering of animals. A cattle metapodial from soil overlying ardmarks of the earliest cultivation level on this part of the machair suggested a terminus post quern of around the last quarter of the third millennium BC or slightly later. A barley grain provides a terminus post quern for soil overlying ardmarks of the second cultivation level on this part of the machair in the quarter millennium centring on 2000 BC, although a sheep bone from the same layer was much older and presumably residual. Judging by a date from a barley grain, and provided the grain is not residual, an occupation layer with an animal butchery deposit may be contemporary with either of these two episodes of agriculture. Ages broadly of the last quarter of the third millennium BC or the first century of the second millennium BC, were obtained from a bone in a sandy occupation layer including pottery of Early Bronze Age style and from a bone in a sand deposit, probably of butchery waste. Another butchery layer was dated to the last century and a half of the third millennium or the first third of the second millennium.
Two barley grain determinations from pits with pottery of Late Bronze Age or Early Iron Age style produced surprisingly early results both in the first third of the second millennium BC. The grains may have been residual. The last five ages, all from butchery layers or sandy layers with animal bones in them were not significantly different from each other as a group. The earliest of these ages from butchery waste came from a bone overlying the floor of a house belonged between the early eight and late fifth centuries BC. A brown sand of identical age contained pottery of Late Bronze Age style. The youngest age was from a red deer bone from a dump of animal bones which may have been as early as the start of the eight century BC or as late as the end of the third century BC.
Thus, the area seems to have been used sporadically or even possibly for fairly long spans of time for a variety of purposes from the centuries around the beginning of the second millennium to after the eighth century BC, a period of over 1000 years.
Samples of charcoal from Smoo Caves, Highland (NGR NC 41856730), Scotland, submitted by A. Pollard. GUARD, Dept. Archaeol., Univ. Glasgow, through Historic Scotland. Comments by P. Ashmore. Historic Scotland.
|OxA-8210||Betula/Salix charcoal. GKC Column Spit 2, δ13C = −25.7‰||1030 ± 40|
|OxA-8211||mixed charcoal. GKC Column Spit 15, δ13C = −27.1‰||1160 ± 35|
|OxA-8212||mixed charcoal. GKC Column Spit 33, δ13C = −25.7‰||1120 ± 30|
Comment (P. A.): threedeterminations were obtained from charcoal in laminated middens in the smaller of two sea-washed caves on the northern coast of Sutherland. Pottery sherds and other artefacts were found at various levels and suggest Late Norse and post-Norse activity in the upper levels and possible Iron Age activity in the lower levels. The earliest date falls between the last quarter of the eighth century AD and the third quarter of the tenth century and the latest suggests occupation between the tenth and middle third of the twelfth centuries AD.
Solway Phase 3
Sample of oak wood from Solway Phase 3, Dumfries and Galloway (NGR NY 164653), Scotland, submitted by M. Cressey, Dept. Archaeol., Univ. Edinburgh. Comments by P. Ashmore, Historic Scotland.
|OxA-8959||Quenus sp. wood, BKI, δ13C = −25.‰||7020 ± 50|
Comment (P. A.): oak wood from a submerged forest was dated to the first quarter of the sixth millennium BC.
Stones of Stenness
Samples of bone from Stones of Stenness, Orkney (NCR HY 30671252), Scotland submitted by J. N. G. and A. Ritchie, 50/1 Spylaw Road, Edinburgh EH10 5BL, through Historic Scotland. Comments by P. Ashmore, Historic Scotland.
|OxA-9762||Canis lupus bone, basal ditch-fill 1 B16, δ13C = −20.4‰||4240 ± 45|
|OxA-9763||cattle bone, basal ditch-fill 2 B17, δ13C = −21.1‰||4425 ± 50|
|OxA-9764||cattle bone, basal ditch-fill 4, δ13C = −21.1‰||4390 ± 50|
|OxA-9765||cattle bone, basal ditch-fill 5 B13, δ13C = −21.1‰||4405 ± 50|
|OxA-9904||cattle bone, basal ditch-fill 3 B25, δ13C = −21.0‰||4360 ± 40|
Comment (P. A.): four samples from cattle bones and one from a wolf bone in the organic basal ditch fills of the henge ditch surrounding the standing stones were dated. Had the cattle bones been exactly contemporary with one another they would have implied a date in a period a century either side of 3000 BC. However, it is not possible to prove that the bones were exactly contemporary with one another, because the wolf bone is significantly later, so their ages cannot be combined. They therefore show only that the ditch fill started to accumulate between about 3300 and 2900 BC. The wolf bone was processed with the others, and its activity was measured with two standards and a background sample which all produced normal results. Its yield was good and its C/N ratio suggests that it was not contaminated with carbon of a different age from that of the bone. Archaeological explanations must be sought for the difference; the likeliest is that the ditch remained open for (at least) many decades rather than that the miscellaneous cattle bones had been curated for at least a few generations.
Samples of human bone from Thorneybank cemetery, Midlothian (NGR NT 34806890), Scotland, submitted by A. R. Rees, CFA, Old High School, 12 Infirmary Street, Edinburgh EH1 1LT, through Historic Scotland. Comments by P. Ashmore, Historic Scotland.
|OxA-8152||human bone, DS1 G1/C238, δ13C = −20.5‰||1705 ± 45|
|OxA-8153||human bone, DS2 G2/C249, δ13C = −20.5‰||1600 ± 40|
|OxA-8154||human bone, DS5 G5, δ13C = −20.6‰||1590 ± 40|
|OxA-8155||human bone, DS9 G14/C491, δ13C = −20.2‰||1255 ± 40|
|OxA-8186||human bone, DS7 G10/C490, δ13C = −20.0‰||1595 ± 35|
|OxA-8187||human bone, DS12 G45/C068, δ13C = −20.7‰||1410 ± 35|
|OxA-8188||human bone, DS15 G34/C064, δ13C = −20.5‰||1460 ± 40|
|OxA-8189||human bone, DS19 G48/C109, δ13C = −20.6‰||1430 ± 40|
|OxA-8190||human bone, DS25 G60/C181, δ13C = −20.6‰||1480 ± 35|
|OxA-8191||human tooth, DS26 G67/C226, δ13C = −20.7‰||1395 ± 35|
|OxA-8192||human bone, DS27 G68/C217, δ13C = −20.4‰||1610 ± 35|
|OxA-8193||human bone, DS28 G72/C133, δ13C C= −20.7‰||1600 ± 40|
|OxA-8194||human bone, DS29 G73/C144, δ13C = −20.7‰||1485 ± 35|
|OxA-8201||Betula sp. charcoal, S119 C303, δ13C = −24.9‰||3625 ± 40|
|OxA-8653||human bone, Gr9 c.489 (DS6), δ13C = −20.1‰||1525 ± 30|
|OxA-8654||human bone, Gr46 c.097 (DS18), δ13C = −19.9‰||1550 ± 35|
|OxA-8655||human bone, Gr90 (DS32), δ13C = −20.4‰||1560 ± 30|
|OxA-8664||human bone, Gr3 c.208 (DS3), δ13C = −20.1‰||1560 ± 35|
|OxA-8665||human bone, Gr4 c.201 (DS4), δ13C = −20.4‰||1490 ± 40|
|OxA-8666||human bone, Gr52 c.130 (DS20), δ13C = −20.1‰||1475 ± 35|
|OxA-8667||human bone, Gr53 c.116 (DS21), δ13C = −20.1‰||1495 ± 40|
|OxA-8668||human bone, Gr99 (DS33), δ13C = −20.4‰||1650 ± 40|
|OxA-8690||human bone, Gr106 (DS34), δ13C = −20.6‰||1510 ± 35|
|OxA-8723||human bone. Gr23 c.052 (DS10), δ13C = −20.1‰||1425 ± 55|
|OxA-8724||human bone, Gr28 (DS12), δ13C = −20.4‰||1500 ± 45|
|OxA-8787||human bone, Gr37 c.097 (DS16), δ13C = −20.4‰||1555 ± 40|
|OxA-8788||human bone, Gr54 c.119 (DS22), δ13C = −20.5‰||1545 ± 35|
|OxA-8789||human bone, Gr56 c.158 (DS23),b, δ13C = −20.3‰||1610 ± 40|
|OxA-8935||human bone, Gr32 c.044 (DS14), δ13C = −20.6‰||1599 ± 38|
|OxA-10160||human bone, DS31 G27, δ13C = −20.3‰||1581 ± 36|
|OxA-10161||human bone, Gr58 c.183 (DS24), δ13C = −20.4‰||1578 ± 34|
Comment (P. A.): thirty-one determinations were obtained from a large long cist and grave cemetery. All were from human bone (and one tooth), except for one from birch roundwood charcoal from a large pit with fire cracked stones. This was dated to between the last century and a half of the third millennium BC and the first quarter of the nineteenth century BC.
The determinations were obtained mostly in two batches. The two oldest determinations obtained were checked and replaced. The origins of the cemetery may lie as early as the fourth or even the third century BC but it remains possible that the remaining two oldest dates (after re-dating of the originally oldest two burials) are ‘too early’. Certainly, the vast majority of the dates are in the fifth and sixth centuries AD though it is conceivable that the two latest might be early seventh century AD.
West Water reservoir
Samples of charcoal from West Water reservoir, Scottish Borders (NGR NT 116524), Scotland, submitted by F. Hunter, Dept. Archaeol., National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, through Historic Scotland. Comments by P. Ashmore, Historic Scotland.
|OxA-9547||Corylus avellana charcoal, WWR 94 / 013A, δ13C= −26.2‰||3299 ± 35|
|OxA-9548||Sorbus sp. charcoal, WWR 94/013B, δ13C= −25.7‰||3298 ± 35|
Comment (P. A.): two AMS determinations, one from a piece of rowan and another from a piece of hazel, were obtained from a pit containing charcoal and heat-cracked stones at a cist cemetery partially submerged by a reservoir. They were almost identical and suggest that the pit dates from the seventeenth or sixteenth centuries BC. The nearby cist cemetery included a burial accompanied by either a two-strand necklace or two separate necklaces. One included 31 cylindrical lead beads and seem to provide the earliest evidence for the use of metallic lead in Britain.