Citation Tipping R, Tisdall E, Davies A, Wilson C & Yendell S (2007) Living with peat in the flow country: prehistoric farming communities and blanket peat spread at Oliclett, Caithness, northern Scotland. In: Barber J, Clark C, Cressey M, Crone A, Hale A, Henderson J, Housley R, Sands R, Sheridan A & Scottish WAP( (eds.) Archaeology from the Wetlands: Recent Perspectives: Proceedings of the 11th WARP Conference, Edinburgh 2005. WARP Occasional Papers. 11th Annual WARP conference, Edinburgh. Edinburgh: Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, pp. 165-173. http://www.socantscot.org/partnumber.asp?cid=&pnid=116854
Abstract First paragraph: The Caithness Plain in north-east Scotland is a gently rolling, lowland, coastal landscape on the edge of the largest expanse of blanket peat in the British Isles: the 'flow country' (fig 1). It has most often been assumed that prehistoric farming communities retreated in the face of the remorseless spread of blanket peat across such a landscape (Piggott 1972; Barber 1998), but it has also been argued that farmers were not so helpless, because, with effort, blanket peat can be kept at bay by repeated cultivation (Carter 1998). This model has not been closely tested before: Carter's ideas emerged from work at Lairg, Sutherland, and little was understood from that study of the chronology of blanket peat growth (McCullagh & Tipping 1998). Excavation of Mesolithic artefact scatters at Oliclett in Caitliness (Pannett 2002), from beneath a hillside almost entirely buried by blanket and marsh peat, allowed the rates of peat spread across a single hillside to be understood in great spatial and temporal detail. This paper presents the 14C dating evidence for peat growth and spread at Oliclett, and evaluates what this analysis might mean for how we perceive the responses of prehistoric people to environmental stress.
Keywords ; Paleoecology Scotland; Neolithic period Scotland; Scotland Antiquities; Forests and forestry Scotland History