A Late Iron Age farmstead in the Outer Hebrides: Excavations at Mound 1, Bornais, South Uist [Hardback]

Niall Sharples (Editor)

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ISBN: 9781842174692 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Series: CARDIFF STUDIES IN ARCHAEOLOGY | Year of Publication: 2012 | Language: English 280p, 111 col & b/w illus



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A Late Iron Age farmstead in the Outer Hebrides

Details

The settlement at Bornais consists of a complex of mounds which protrude from the relatively flat machair plain in the township of Bornais on the island of South Uist. This sandy plain has proved an attractive settlement from the Beaker period onwards; it appears to have been intensively occupied from the Late Bronze Age to the end of the Norse period. Mound 1 was the original location for settlement in this part of the machair plain; pre-Viking activity of some complexity is present and it is likely that the settlement activity started in the Middle Iron Age, if not earlier. The examination of the mound 1 deposits provides an important contribution to our understanding of the Iron Age sequence in the Atlantic province. The principal contribution comprises the large quantities of mammal, fish and bird bones, carbonised plant remains and pottery, which can be accurately dated to a fairly precise and narrow period in the 1st millennium AD. These are augmented by a substantial collection of small finds which included distinctive bone artefacts. The contextual significance of the site is based on the survival of floor deposits and a burnt-down roof; the floor deposits can be compared with abandonment and adjacent midden deposits providing contrasting contextual environments that help to clarify depositional processes. The burning down of the house and the excellent preservation of the deposits within it provide an unparalleled opportunity to examine the timber superstructure of the building and the layout of the material used by the inhabitants.

Table of Contents

1. Bornais and the Iron Age
Introduction (N Sharples)
The history of the excavations (N Sharples)
A history of archaeology in the southern Hebrides (N Sharples)
The Iron Age background (N Sharples)
  The Early Iron Age
  The Middle Iron Age
  The Late Iron Age
The Hebridean ceramic sequence (A Lane)
Machair settlement in the townships of Bornais and Cill Donnain (N Sharples)
The Iron Age settlement of South Uist (N Sharples)
The research potential (N Sharples)
Methodologies (N Sharples)
  Sampling (N Sharples and H Smith)
  Sediment analysis of floor layers (H Smith and P Marshall)
  Micromorphology (K B Milek)
  Pottery (A Lane)
  Artefact methodology (A Clarke, P Macdonald and A Smith)
  Charcoal (R Gale)
  Mammalian bone (J Mulville and A Powell)
  Isotopic analysis (R Madgwick, J Mulville, R E Stevens and T C O’Connell)
  Bird bone (J Cartledge)
  Fish bone (C Ingrem)
  Marine shell (N Sharples)
Acknowledgements (N Sharples)

2. The Late Iron Age settlement Introduction (N Sharples)
Early structures (CA) (N Sharples)
  Artefacts (A Smith, A Lane and K Harding)
  Animal bone (J Mulville and A Powell)
  Conclusion (N Sharples)
Late Iron Age house (CB) (N Sharples)
  House 1
  House 2
  Micromorphology (K Milek)
  Sampling data (N Sharples)
  Spatial distributions (N Sharples and E Norris)
  Geochemical analysis (H Smith and P Marshall)
  Pottery (A Lane)
  Measurements (N Sharples)
  Artefacts (A Clarke, P Macdonald, A Pannett, N Sharples and A Smith)
  Carbonised plant remains (S Colledge and H Smith)
  Charcoal (R Gale)
  Animal bone (J Cartledge, C Ingrem, J Mulville and A Powell)
  Conclusion (N Sharples)
Destruction and infi lling (CC) (N Sharples)
  Sampling data (N Sharples)
  Pottery (A Lane)
  Measurements (N Sharples)
  Artefacts (A Clarke, P Macdonald, A Pannett and A Smith)
  Carbonised plant remains (S Colledge, R Gale and H Smith)
  Animal bone (J Cartledge, C Ingrem, J Mulville and A Powell)
  Conclusion (N Sharples)
The Late Iron Age midden (CG) (N Sharples)
  Sampling data (N Sharples)
  Pottery (A Lane)
  Measurements (N Sharples)
  Artefacts (A Clarke, A Pannett, N Sharples and A Smith)
  Carbonised plant remains (S Colledge, R Gale and H Smith)
  Animal bone (J Cartledge, C Ingrem, J Mulville and A Powell)
  Conclusion (N Sharples)

3. Norse reoccupation
Introduction (N Sharples)
The Norse activity area (CE) (N Sharples)
  Sampling data (N Sharples)
  Pottery (A Lane)
  Measurements (N Sharples)
  Artefacts (A Clarke, P Macdonald, A Pannett and A Smith)
  Carbonised plant remains (S Colledge, R Gale and H Smith)
  Animal bone (J Cartledge, C Ingrem, J Mulville and A Powell)
  Conclusion (N Sharples)
The Norse structure (CD) (N Sharples)
  Animal bone (J Cartledge, C Ingrem, J Mulville and A Powell)
  Conclusion (N Sharples)
The Norse middens (CF) (N Sharples)
  Sampling data (N Sharples)
  Pottery (A Lane)
  Measurements (N Sharples) Artefacts (A Clarke, P Macdonald, A Pannett and A Smith)
  Carbonised plant remains (S Colledge, R Gale and H Smith)
  Animal bone (J Cartledge, C Ingrem, J Mulville and A Powell)
  Conclusion (N Sharples)
Unstratified finds (N Sharples)

4. Comparative analysis of the site assemblage
Introduction (N Sharples)
Pottery (A Lane) Artefacts (A Clarke, P Macdonald, A Pannett, N Sharples and A Smith)
Carbonised plant remains (S Colledge and H Smith)
  Overall description of the samples: densities of charred plant remains
  Taxonomic composition of the samples
  Ubiquity analysis
  Correspondence analysis
Charcoal (R Gale)
Mammalian bone (J Mulville and A Powell)
  Main food species
  Minor species: domestic resources
  Minor species: terrestrial wild resources
  Minor species: marine wild resources
Bird bone (J Cartledge)
Fish bone (C Ingrem)
  Comparison of blocks
  Species representation
  Density of fish bone
Human bone (A L Carter)
Marine shell and crab (N Sharples and J Light)
The residue analysis (N Sharples)
Conclusion (N Sharples)

5. Chronology
The radiocarbon dates (P Marshall, C Bronk Ramsey and G Cook)
  Stable isotopes and C:N ratios
  Methodological approach
  Objectives and sampling strategies
  The sequence
  Results
Artefact chronologies (N Sharples and A Lane)
  Late Iron Age
  Norse
Conclusion (N Sharples)

6. Resource exploitation
Introduction (N Sharples)
The Sea. 1. Fish (C Ingrem)
The Sea. 2. Mammals (J Mulville)
The Sea. 3. Birds (J Cartledge and D Serjeantson)
The Shore. 1. Shellfish (N Sharples)
The Shore. 2. Birds (J Cartledge and D Serjeantson)
The Shore. 3. Wood (R Gale)
The Shore. 4. Stone (A Clarke and A Pannett)
The Machair. 1 Carbonised plant remains (J Summers and J Bond)
  Cultivars
  Weed taxa
The Machair. 2. Birds (J Cartledge and D Serjeantson)
The Machair. 3. Animal management (J Mulville and A Powell)
  Ageing
  Size
  Conclusion
The Machair. 4. Isotopic analysis of the fauna (R Madgwick, J Mulville, R E Stevens and T C O’Connell)
  Results and discussion
  Wider context
The Machair. 5. Worked bone (A Smith)
The Moorland. 1. Red deer (J Mulville and A Powell)
The Moorland. 2. Birds (J Cartledge and D Serjeantson)
The Moorland. 3. Carbonised plant remains (J Summers and J Bond)
The Moorland. 4. Trees (R Gale)
The Moorland. 5. Clay (A Lane)
Exotic imports (A Clarke, J Cartledge, R Gale, D Serjeantson and N Sharples)
Conclusion (N Sharples)

7. Site activities
Introduction (N Sharples)
Artefactual evidence (A Clarke, P Macdonald, N Sharples and A Smith)
  Manufacturing evidence (including a report on the flint by A Pannett)
  Vessels (including a report on the pottery by A Lane)
  Currency (G Williams)
  Personal items
  Horse fittings
  Decorative objects, gaming pieces and religious objects (including a report on an Ogham-inscribed plaque by K Forsyth)
  Tools for textile production
  Other tools
  Structural fittings
  Miscellaneous metal objects
The slag (T Young)
  Distribution Description
  Conclusions
The movement, distribution and disposal of plant materials (J Summers and J Bond )
Charcoal (R Gale)
Fish preparation and consumption (C Ingrem)
The consumption of birds (J Cartledge and D Serjeantson)
Animal bone taphonomy (J Mulville and A Powell)
  Butchery
  Anatomical representation of major terrestrial species
  Stratigraphic block differences
  Red deer
  Discussion of body part distribution
Conclusion (N Sharples)

8. Discussion
Introduction (N Sharples)
The wheelhouse (N Sharples)
  Wheelhouse use (N Sharples)
  The abandonment and destruction of the wheelhouse (N Sharples)
The use of material culture (N Sharples)
The social importance of artefacts (N Sharples, A Clarke and A Smith)
Power relations in the Iron Age (N Sharples)
The agricultural economy of a late wheelhouse
  Crops (J Summers and J Bond)
  Mammals (J Mulville)
  The birds (D Serjeantson)
  The fish (C Ingrem)
The Norse occupation of mound 1 (N Sharples)
  Pottery (A Lane)
  The metals (P Macdonald)
  The stone and bone tools (A Clarke, N Sharples and A Smith)
  Mammals (J Mulville)
  The fish (C Ingrem)
  The birds (D Serjeantson)
Conclusion (N Sharples)

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