Archaeological evidence for the first Mesolithic occupation of the Western Isles of Scotland

R A Gregory, E M Murphy, M J Church, Kevin John Edwards, E B Guttmann, D D A Simpson

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Abstract

The examination of eroding coastal dunes at the prehistoric site of Northton, Harris, has produced the first archaeological evidence of Mesolithic activity in the Western Isles in the form of two midden-related deposits. The first phase of Mesolithic activity is dated to 7060-6650 cal. Bc based on AMS dating of charred hazelnut shells. This discovery appears to validate the frequent pollen-based inferences of Mesolithic impact for the area and, as predicted, allows the Atlantic fringe of Scotland to become part of the European Mesolithic mainstream. A detailed pedological analysis also suggests that these early midden layers may have been amended during the Neolithic period as part of a possible phase of cultivation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)944-950
Number of pages7
JournalThe Holocene
Volume15
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2005

Keywords

  • Western Isles
  • Scotland
  • Mesolithic
  • Neolithic
  • middens
  • pedological analysis
  • Holocene
  • OUTER-HEBRIDES
  • HUMAN IMPACTS
  • VEGETATION
  • EVOLUTION
  • HISTORY
  • POLLEN

Cite this

Gregory, R. A., Murphy, E. M., Church, M. J., Edwards, K. J., Guttmann, E. B., & Simpson, D. D. A. (2005). Archaeological evidence for the first Mesolithic occupation of the Western Isles of Scotland. The Holocene, 15, 944-950. https://doi.org/10.1191/0959683605hl868ft