Guttmann EB, Simpson I, Davidson D & Dockrill SJ (2006) The Management of Arable Land from Prehistory to the Present: Case Studies from the Northern Isles of Scotland. Geoarchaeology, 21 (1), pp. 61-92. https://doi.org/10.1002/gea.20089
The arable soils from two multiperiod settlements were analyzed to identify changes in agricultural methods over time. The settlement middens were also analyzed to determine whether potential fertilizers were discarded unused. Results suggest that in the Neolithic period (~4000–2000 B.C. in the UK) the arable soils at Tofts Ness, Orkney, and Old Scatness, Shetland, were created by flattening and cultivating the settlements’ midden heaps in situ. The arable area at Tofts Ness was expanded in the Bronze Age (~2000–700 B.C. in the UK), and the new land was improved by the addition of ash, nightsoil, and domestic waste. Cultivation continued briefly after the fields were buried in windblown sand in the Late Bronze Age or Early Iron Age, but by the Early Iron Age cultivation ceased and organic-rich material was allowed to accumulate within the settlement. By contrast, at Old Scatness, arable production was increased in the Iron Age (~700 B.C.–A.D. 550 in Scotland) by the intensive use of animal manures. The results indicate that during the lifespan of the two settlements the arable soils were fertilized to increase production, which was intensified over time.
Geoarchaeology: Volume 21, Issue 1