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«LAURA ELISABETH HAMLET THESIS SUBMITTED FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY BIOLOGICAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES SCHOOL OF NATURAL SCIENCES ...»

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Anthropic sediments on the Scottish North Atlantic seaboard:

Nature, versatility and value of midden

LAURA ELISABETH HAMLET

THESIS SUBMITTED FOR THE DEGREE OF

DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

BIOLOGICAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES

SCHOOL OF NATURAL SCIENCES

UNIVERSITY OF STIRLING

MARCH 2014 Statement of originality I hereby confirm that this is an original study conducted independently by the undersigned and that the work contained herein has not been submitted for any other degree. All reference material has been duly acknowledged and cited.

Signature of candidate: Date:

ii | P a g e Abstract Traditionally archaeology has referred to the anthropic sediments accumulated around prehistoric settlements with the blanket term ‘midden’. This is now recognised as an inadequate term to describe the complex formation processes and functions represented in these sediments. This thesis reviewed the body of evidence accumulated over the past century of research into Neolithic and Bronze Age settlements on the islands of the Scottish North Atlantic seaboard and extrapolated the many occurrences of ‘midden’. Several contexts emerged for these sediments including interior floors, hearths, exterior occupational surfaces, dumped deposits, building construction materials and abandonment infill. In addition, ‘midden’ is described added to cultivated soils to form fertile anthrosols. The way in which prehistoric communities exploited this material for agriculture and construction has been described through geoarchaeological research which implied that to past communities ‘midden’ was a valuable resource. This led to the formation of a model based upon a human ecodynamics framework to hypothesise sediment formation pathways. Rescue excavation at the Links of Noltland, Westray provided an opportunity to conduct a holistic landscape and fine resolution based study of Neolithic and Bronze Age settlement to test this model. The research incorporated auger survey, archaeological and geoarchaeological excavation, thin section micromorphology and SEM EDX analyses. Sediments identified in literature review and recovered from the field site were described using this toolkit and set within a cultural and environmental context. Results demonstrate that anthropic materials were incorporated into all contexts examined. Discrete burning and maintenance activities were found to have taken place during the gradual accumulation of open-air anthropic sediments whilst incorporation of fuel residues and hearth waste into floors lead to the gradual formation of ‘living floors’ inside structures. An unexpected discovery was evidence of animal penning within late Neolithic/Early Bronze Age settlement and the in situ burning of stabling waste. Three types evidenced and the range and extent of anthropic inclusions in the landscape recorded. Spatial interpolation of auger survey data utilised a new sub-surface modelling technique being developed by the British Geological Survey to explore soil stratigraphic relationships in 3D.

SEM EDX analysis supported micromorphological analysis providing chemical data for discrete inclusions and assisting in the identification of herbivore dun ash and the Orcadian funerary product ‘cramp’. SEM EDX analysis was also applied to fine organo-mineral material for statistical testing of nutrient loadings across context groups. It was found that anthropic sediments were enriched in macro and intermediate plant nutrients Mg, P, K, S and Ca compared to geological controls, and the application of anthropic material to cultivated soils improved soil fertility for the three observed land management practices.

The versatility of anthropic sediments was explored through discussion of context groups based upon the results of this research and the potential significance of this material to prehistoric communities is explored.

supportive people who have been responsible for getting me to where I am today. I have been privileged to work with Historic Scotland and the University of Stirling both of whom have supported this research both financially and academically and in the case of Professor Ian Simpson (my supervisor) and Richard Strachan (Historic Scotland Senior Archaeologist) this support has gone beyond all expectations. I would like to express my deep appreciation of the inspiration, guidance and encouragement I have received from Ian and my gratitude for believing in my abilities, even when I couldn’t see it. My gratitude goes to Richard particularly for the little morale boosts in the field and tuition in ArcGIS. I am also much indebted to Dr Clare Wilson (also my supervisor) who has given me invaluable morale support, practical discussion and help with statistical analysis.

I would like to acknowledge the support of and thank Environment and Archaeological Services Edinburgh for providing me with field accommodation, post-excavation support in the form of discussion and paperwork and for sharing Kubiëna tin samples and the site archive, without which this research would not have been possible.

I am grateful to Dr Hans Husiman for discussion and inspiration and George MacLeod, Bill Jamieson, Scott Jackson and Peter Hunter who have been responsible for technical advice without which I would not have been able to carry out the micromorphological, GIS or SEM EDX components of this thesis. George deserves special mention for his perseverance despite my slow uptake of thin section preparation techniques and for manufacturing the thin sections. Recognition must also go to Sarah Arkley of the British Geological Survey who has inspired me and my future career and helped me to navigate sub-surface modelling and believed in my project.





and what extraordinary times we spent together, at work, rest and play – I learned so much from you all and I hope you always remember the great times we all had. Especially Hazel Moore and Graeme Wilson, who patiently stood by me in many a sand storm listening to my wild, naive ideas about a project they’d been working on while I was still a first year undergraduate. Acknowledgement goes to the entire Links of Noltland excavation team from 2010 who helped me at different times to set out my auger grid transects and dig and record my soil test pits. My gratitude also goes to Dr Val Dufeu for guidance and assistance sampling for thin section micromorphology.

Acknowledgement must go to my remarkable field assistant, Deirdre Kerdraon whose help was invaluable. Dee helped me with my grid 2 auger survey and demonstrated incredible perseverance in the face of terrible weather as a volunteer in 2011. I would also like to express my appreciation to the Harcus family who adopted me during my time on Westray and welcomed me into Pierowall Baptist Church.

Dr Kirsty Golding has also been a great influence in my studies both with micromorphological interpretation in the early days and good humoured discussion. Dr Jon Cluett must also receive very special thanks for, inspiring my work in Orkney and modelling how to be a Christian in science.

Most especially I would like to thank Tim, my husband. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for paddling into my life, accepting me for who I am, holding my hand through the tough times, praying for me when I didn’t have the strength to pray myself and sharing with me in the best of times.

Not least of this catalogue of special people I must hold up my mum, Lynda McKenna, who has stoically bent her mind to the concepts of agency theory, phenomenology, micromorphology comment and criticism.

The list is endless but I will close by thanking some of the wonderful women in my life; my mother in-law Wendy Hamlet who has also kindly proof-read my drafts, my best friend Jenny Lines who supported me through some of the toughest times and of course, the lovely ladies of 3A124C who have counselled, encouraged and provided chocolate.

Links of Noltland 2010 excavation team (photo credit, Graeme Wilson EASE).

Within the review chapter of this thesis conventions regarding radiocarbon dating reports are presented as the original author published the results. The general notations ‘BC’ and ‘AD’ for millennia refer to the Western or Gregorian calendar designations of ‘Before Christ’ and ‘Anno Domini’. The year 0 BC is equivalent to 1950 before present and present is considered 1 st of January 1950 AD. Radiocarbon dating results presented for the field site at the Links of

Noltland are reported as follows:

date range cal BC = Calibrated radiocarbon date reported to 2 sigma ¹⁴C year ± range BP = un-calibrated radiocarbon date Others OSL = Optically Stimulated Luminescence dating [9024] = denotes archaeological context number relates to the site record or data structure report ix | P a g e Contents Statement of originality…………………………………………………………………………………………….……………ii Abstract…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….………..…iii Acknowledgements………………………………………………………………………………………………….……………vi Conventions and abbreviations……………………………………………………………………………………..………ix Contents………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………...x List of figures…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………xvii List of tables …………………………………………………..……………………………………………………………………xxvi Thesis introduction: Life on an island, the Scottish North Atlantic seaboard in prehistory……….1 Chapter 1: Anthropic sediments on the Scottish North Atlantic seaboard: nature, versatility and value of midden.

1.1 Introduction

1.2 Broad framework for research

1.3 The development of ‘midden’ in the Northern and Western Isles

1.4 Midden in context I: The Neolithic

1.4.1 Orkney

1.4.2 Neolithic midden in Orkney: a model

1.4.3 The Outer Hebrides

1.4.4 Neolithic midden in the Outer Hebrides: a model

1.4.5 Shetland

1.4.6 Neolithic midden in Shetland: a model

1.4.7 Summary

1.5 Midden in context II: The Bronze Age

1.5.1 Orkney

1.5.2 Bronze Age midden in Orkney: a model

1.5.3 The Outer Hebrides

1.5.5 Shetland

1.5.6 Bronze Age midden in Shetland: a model

1.5.7 Summary

1.6 Discussion: Midden and its uses through time

1.7 Research opportunities

1.8 Conclusion

1.9 Summary

Chapter 2: Developing a research framework for the investigation of anthropic sediment formation and management: midden – a human ecodynamics perspective

2.1 Introduction

2.2 Midden as part of a culturally ecodynamic system

2.2.1 Site formation processes

2.3 Developing a human eco-dynamics based research framework

2.3.1 Modeling systems of anthrosol and anthropic sediment formation in the Scottish North Atlantic seaboard

2.4 References for anthrosol and anthropic sediment composition and interpretation. 76 2.4.1 Evidence from the Scottish North Atlantic seaboard

2.4.2 Presence/absence and indications of recipes

2.4.3 Patterns of deposition

2.4.4 Multiple working hypotheses

2.4.5 Summary

2.5.1 Aims

2.5.2 Objective 1

2.5.3 Objective 2

2.5.4 Objective 3

2.5.5 Objective 4

Chapter 3: Detecting resource management in the field: a geoarchaeological approach to site selection and sediment recovery

3.1 Introduction

3.2 Site selection

3.3 The field site: Links of Noltland, Westray

3.3.1 Sand Movement

3.3.2 Geology

3.3.3 Geomorphology

3.3.4 Soils

3.3.5 Vegetation & Fauna

3.3.6 Erosion

3.3.7 Archaeological research

3.3.8 Palaeoenvironmental Research

3.3.9 Summary

3.4 Field Design

3.4.1 Site specific research questions

3.4.3 Results

3.4.4 Auger survey summary

3.5 Spatial interpolation using Geological Surveying and Investigation in three Dimensions (GSI3D)

3.6 Sampling for soil and sediment micromorphology

3.6.1 Sampling I: Soil Test Pits

3.6.2 Sampling II: Archaeological excavation

2.5.3 Sampling III - Anthrosols

3.6.4 Sampling IV – Anthropic sediments

3.7 Summary

Chapter 4: Detecting resource management in the laboratory: analytical methods and results

4.1 Introduction

4.2 Collation of groups by archaeological and environmental context

4.2.1 Glacial till

4.2.2 Foundations

4.2.3 Interior floor deposits

4.2.4 Hearth

4.2.5 Dumped deposits

4.2.6 Occupational deposits

4.2.7 Building infill

4.2.9 Field banks

4.2.10 Old ground/activity surfaces

4.2.11Disturbed material

4.3 Thin section micromorphology of anthrosols and anthropic sediments................. 170 4.3.1 Manufacture and preparation of slides

4.3.2 Procedures for description and interpretation

4.4 Supporting analyses

4.4.1 Point counting

4.4.2 Scanning Electron Microscopy

4.5 Summary…………………………………………………………………

Chapter 5: Thin section micromorphological description and chemical composition of anthropic sediments and anthrosols from the Links of Noltland, Orkney………………………..193

5.1 Introduction

5.2 Results of point count analysis

5.2.1 Statistical analysis of point count data

5.3 Controls

5.3.1 Boulder clay

5.3.2 Aeolian sand

5.4 Exceptional features

5.4.1 Vesicular charr

5.4.2 Cramp

5.4.4 Phosphatic features

5.5 Anthropic sediment formation at the Links of Noltland

5.5.1 Foundatios

5.5.2 Interior floor deposits

5.5.3 Hearth



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