This paper discusses the evidence for periodic human activity in the Cairngorm Mountains of Scotland from the late ninth millennium cal BC to the early fourth millennium cal BC. While contemporary paradigms for Mesolithic Europe acknowledge the significance of upland environments, the archaeological record for these areas is not yet as robust as that for the lowland zone. Results of excavation at Chest of Dee, along the headwaters of the River Dee, are set into a wider context with previously published excavations in the area. A variety of site types evidences a sophisticated relationship between people and a dynamic landcape through a period of changing climate. Archaeological benefits of the project include the ability to examine novel aspects of the archaeology leading to a more comprehensive understanding of Mesolithic lifeways. It also offers important lessons in site survival, archaeological investigation, and the management of the upland zone.
Bibliographical noteAcknowledgements: The Upper Dee Tributaries Project partners are grateful for financial assistance received from the National Trust for Scotland, Aberdeenshire Council, the Society of Antiquaries of London, the Robert Kiln Charitable Trust, the Royal Archaeological Institute and the Tony Clark Memorial Fund. As ever many people have contributed to the success of fieldwork including colleagues and students from the University of Aberdeen (Chest of Dee) and University College Dublin (Caochanan Ruadha); in particular we would like to thank Rick Knecht, Karen Milek, Oskar Sveinbjarnarson, Joe Cull, Bernard Gilhooly, Niamh Kelly, Rowan Lacey, Mark Powers and James Redmond. Dr David Millward kindly helped with geological identification. This work would not have been possible without the support of the Trust’s Property Manager David Frew and the Mar Lodge Estate team. Bruce Mann is thanked for helpful comments on the text.
- climate change