Lake and crannog: A 2500-year palaeoenvironmental record of continuity and change in NE Scotland  

Samantha Jones* (Corresponding Author), Olalla López-Costas, A. Martínez Cortizas, Timothy Mighall, Gordon Noble, Michael Stratigos

*Corresponding author for this work

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Wetland environments have been important resources for human habitation since prehistoric times and in parts of northern Europe these have witnessed the construction of artificial islet settlements, known as ‘crannogs’ in Scotland and Ireland. This paper presents a high-resolution multi-proxy palaeoenvironmental study from the Loch of Leys, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, the site of a recently excavated crannog that provides a chronological context for its inhabitation. The combined datasets demonstrate that the first occupation from AD 20-210 coincided not only with a transitional phase from lake to wetland (mire) but also with the timing of the first major Roman campaigns in northeast Scotland. Techniques including microfossil analysis, geochemistry, IR-spectroscopy and
physical properties integrated with archaeological and historical records have helped to better define both natural changes that took place in the wetland environment and human activity (agriculture, fires, metal working) spanning the Roman Iron Age through to the present. This has allowed a better understanding of the responses of existing Iron Age communities to Roman military activity (e.g. through continuity or change in land use) as well as the resources exploited in frontier zones during the Roman and post Roman eras. This has wider significance not just for Scotland but also for other parts of Europe that had
similar frontiers and conflict zones during the Roman period.
Original languageEnglish
Article number107532
Number of pages22
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Early online date2 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

Special acknowledgements go to Audrey Innes for her laboratory support, to Laura McHardie who originally extracted the core with Michael J. Stratigos.
Thanks are owed to the Leys Estate and the then Estate Manager Thys Simpson for allowing access, help in taking the core and overall support for work in the former loch. Thanks to the Hunter Archaeological and Historical Trust who funded the fieldwork. The article was written as part of the Leverhulme Trust funded project ‘Comparative Kingship: the early Medieval kingdoms of Northern Britain and Ireland’ (Grant RG13876-10). Authors would like to thank the use of RIAIDT-USC analytical facilities. OLC is funded by JIN project (PID2019-111683RJ-I00) Spanish Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovacion and Beca Leonardo a
Investigadores y Creadores Culturales 2020 de la Fundación BBVA.

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  • Crannog
  • eastern Scotland
  • environmental change
  • Roman Iron Age
  • Early & Post Medieval
  • Palynology
  • Geochemistry


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