Guttmann EB, Simpson I & Dockrill SJ (2003) Joined-up archaeology at Old Scatness, Shetland: Thin section analysis of the site and hinterland. Environmental Archaeology, 8 (1), pp. 17-31. https://doi.org/10.1179/env.2003.8.1.17
Excavations on the multi-period settlement at Old Scatness, Shetland have uncovered a number of Iron Age structures with compacted, floor-like layers. Thin section analysis was undertaken in order to investigate and compare the characteristics of these layers. The investigation also draws on earlier analyses of the Iron Age agricultural soil around the settlement and the midden deposits that accumulated within the settlement, to create a 'joined-up' analysis which considers the way material from the settlement was used and then recycled as fertiliser for the fields. Peat was collected from the nearby uplands and was used for fuel and possibly also for flooring. It is suggested that organic-rich floors from the structures were periodically removed and the material was spread onto the fields as fertilisers. More organic-rich material may have been used selectively for fertiliser, while the less organic peat ash was allowed to accumulate in middens. Several of the structures may have functioned as byres, which suggests a prehistoric plaggen system.
iron age; agriculture; plaggen soils; Shetland; floors; micromorphology
Environmental Archaeology: Volume 8, Issue 1