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Article

Arable agriculture in prehistory: new evidence from soils in the Northern Isles

Citation
Guttmann EB, Dockrill SJ & Simpson I (2004) Arable agriculture in prehistory: new evidence from soils in the Northern Isles. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 134, pp. 53-64. http://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/archiveDS/archiveDownload?t=arch-352-1/dissemination/pdf/vol_134/134_053_064.pdf

Abstract
A Neolithic agricultural soil, a late Bronze Age to early Iron Age soil and a range of midden deposits were analysed from the multi-period settlement sites of Tofts Ness, Sanday, Orkney and Old Scatness, Shetland. The analysis was undertaken in order to compare the midden material which had accumulated within the settlement to the cultural material in the arable fields. The comparison was undertaken in order to determine whether manuring was practised in the Neolithic and, if so, to identify which materials were selected as fertilizers. Thin section micromorphology, phosphate analysis, particle size distribution and loss on ignition were used to identify and characterize the materials which were added to the soil. The results indicate that in the Neolithic period at Tofts Ness the middens themselves were cultivated, although midden material was also added as fertilizer to the fields around the site. The cultivation of midden heaps in the Neolithic may have been a common practice and is evidence for intensive arable agriculture on a small scale. The cultivation of a Late Bronze Age to Early Iron Age midden at Old Scatness, Shetland suggests continuity of the practice. Parallels are drawn with other Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age sites.

Journal
Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland: Volume 134

StatusPublished
Author(s)Guttmann, Erika B; Dockrill, Stephen J; Simpson, Ian
Publication date31/12/2004
PublisherSociety of Antiquaries of Scotland
Publisher URLhttp://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/…/134_053_064.pdf
ISSN0081-1564
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