Excavations at Milla Skerra, Sandwick: Rhythms of Life in Iron Age Shetland [Hardback]

Olivia Lelong (Author)

ISBN: 9781785703430 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Year of Publication: 2019 | Language: English 160p, H297 x W210 (mm) b/w and colour

Excavations at Milla Skerra, Sandwick


During the late 1st millennium BC into the early 1st millennium AD, the small island of Unst in the far north of the Shetland (and British) Isles was home to well-established and connected farming and fishing communities. The Iron Age settlement at Milla Skerra was occupied for at least 500 years before it was covered with storm-blown sand and abandoned. Although part of it had been lost to the sea, excavation revealed many details of the life of the settlement and how it was reused over many generations. From the middle of the 1st millennium BC people were constructing stone-walled yards and filling them with hearth waste and midden material. Later inhabitants built a house on top, with a paved floor and successive hearths, and more domestic rubbish accumulated inside it. Outside were new yards and workshops for crafts and metalworking, which were remodelled several times. The buildings fell into disrepair and became a dumping ground for domestic waste until the 2nd or 3rd century AD, when sand buried the settlement. Within a few generations, a man was buried beside the ruins along with some striking objects. Thousands of artefacts and environmental remains from Milla Skerra reveal the everyday practices and seasonal rhythms of the people that lived in this windswept and remote island settlement and their connections to both land and sea.

Table of Contents

List of figures
List of tables
1. Uncovering Milla Skerra
Olivia Lelong
2. The life and death of Milla Skerra
Olivia Lelong
3. Refining interpretations of the archaeological deposits
Brendan Derham, Clare Ellis and Jo McKenzie
4. Fires and food at Milla Skerra
Ruby Cerón-Carrasco, Brendan Derham, Jennifer Miller, Susan Ramsay and Catherine Smith
5. The making, using and breaking of pots
Olivia Lelong and Beverley Ballin Smith
6. Craftwork at Milla Skerra: metalworking and bone, stone and iron tools
Beverley Ballin Smith, Torben Bjarke Ballin, Ann Clarke, Amanda Forster, Martin Goldberg, Fraser Hunter, Richard Jones, Olivia Lelong, Dawn McLaren and Anthony Newton
7. Technologies of the self: painted pebbles, ornaments and the burial
Martin Goldberg and Fraser Hunter, with contributions by Paul Duffy, Katharina Dulias, Ceiridwen J. Edwards and Amanda Forster
8. Rhythms of life at Milla Skerra
Olivia Lelong

Reviews & Quotes

"The report is far from a dry description of contexts and discoveries. When we read that before construction of a yard commenced, 'someone set a painted pebble on the surface', or that a well-worn paving slab 'may have been a favourite warm seat', the past is brought intimately to life. Who needs reconstruction drawings when there are wonderfully evocative desceriptions such as these?"
Edward Biddulph
Current Archaeology (24/06/2019)

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