Thacker M (2017) Fossilised Environments Above The Ground - an interdisciplinary approach to the ecology of medieval castle construction (Presentation) Grand Challenge Agendas in Environmental Archaeology: Association for Environmental Archaeology Autumn Conference, Edinburgh 2017, Edinburgh, 01.12.2017-03.12.2017. https://www.ed.ac.uk/files/atoms/files/aea_conference_final_programme.pdf
Medieval and later castles and churches are often the most visible monuments within Scottish landscapes and contribute enormously to a sense of identity and place. Many of these buildings are associated with historical figures and events of national and international importance, and present resident communities and visitors alike with a continuing, even ancestral, link to the past. The intellectual discourses surrounding these structures are, therefore, of significant cultural and economic importance. In this paper I will introduce an ongoing research project which is exploring the archaeological and palaeoenvironmental potential of masonry building materials across Scotland, with a particular focus on the upstanding seigniorial buildings of the medieval period. As compulsory legal representations of European lordship which often emerge quite suddenly within regional archaeological records, I will demonstrate that Scottish medieval castles and churches contain important physical evidence for the interactions between particular people and particular past environments at various times, and how increasingly refined chronologies enable a more holistic narrative for the physical and cultural development of the built environment to be constructed. I will argue that drawing together the various disciplines concerned with the study of historic buildings and landscapes is one of the ‘grand challenges’ for archaeology, and one that an environmental approach is uniquely placed to overcome.