The Loch of Clickimin, Shetland, is well known for its broch and associated monuments supposedly of the Bronze and Iron Ages, although the former date is disputed. Pollen, diatom and sedimentological investigations permit fresh insights into the landscape and economic impacts of those who constructed the Monuments, reveal that the environs of the site experienced environmental change from Neolithic times onward and provide the first Holocene radiocarbon dates from the immediate locality. The broch-building period witnessed a continuation of pre-existing, pastoral husbandry for which heather burning may have exacerbated the natural spread of blanket peat. Initially, no evidence was adduced for local arable activity in the present investigation, and this was thought to be consistent possibly with the low numbers of excavated querns and the absence of cereal macrofossil finds when compared with other Shetland broch sites. The application of 'rapid scanning' techniques, however, led to the discovery of a consistent cereal-type pollen representation from Bronze Age times onwards. The discrepancies between the palaeoenvironmental evidence and the environmental and palaeoeconomic inferences made by the excavator of the site are explored. Evidence is presented that both supports and contradicts previous assumptions surrounding an important archaeological site. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.