Early Medieval Shellfish Gathering at the Sands of Forvie, Aberdeenshire: Feast or Famine?

Gordon Noble, Joe R Turner, Derek Hamilton, Lee Hastie, Rick Knecht, Oskar Sveinbjarnarson, B R Upex, Karen B Milek, Lindsey Stirling

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From 2010 to 2014, extensive shell middens were excavated at the Sands of Forvie, Aberdeenshire, and the wider landscape explored through a programme of soil and geophysical survey. The middens were dated to the 1st millennium ad and appear to represent intensive gathering and cooking of shellfish, particularly mussels. To date, few middens of the scale of the Forvie examples have been identified in Scotland, but the middens share some parallels with similar examples found in a broader North Sea context. This article reports on the findings of the excavations, provides an outline of the chronology of the middens, including Bayesian modelling of dates, and a brief review of the growing evidence for shellfish gathering in 1st-millennium ad Scotland and the wider north-west European context.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-152
Number of pages32
JournalProceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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