Issue: Mesolithic Scotland and its Neighbours

Subtitle the Early Holocene prehistory of Scotland, its British and Irish context, and some Northern European perspectives
Publication Type
Abstract These published studies present an up-to-date and comprehensive overview of the exciting and expanding field of Mesolithic research.
2004_SAVILLE_Mesolithic_Scotland.pdf (64 MB): Download (81 MB): Download
Author Alan Saville
Publisher Society of Antiquaries of Scotland
Year of Publication 2004
Number of Pages: 476
ISBN 0903903288
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Source ADS Archive
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3 - 24
The development of Mesolithic studies in Scotland is reviewed and set in context. Lacaille's Stone Age in Scotland, published in 1954, is argued to mark the culmination of the first phase of Mesolithic research. Subsequent changing perceptions and the recent intensification of fieldwork are discussed, with a footnote on the 'Obanian'.
27 - 43
Places the Mesolithic occupation of Scotland in the context of Late Glacial and Early Holocene environmental change.
45 - 53
The principles of interpretation of woodland disturbances attributed to anthropogenic activity from upland contexts in the British Isles are critically evaluated in the light of new data which indicate more than previously that human activities are not the sole, or even perhaps the likeliest, cause of change in plant communities.
55 - 72
Aspects of the palaeoecology and related palaeoenvironmental elements of the Mesolithic period in Scotland are placed in the context of Lateglacial antecedents, even though a local Palaeolithic occupation is unproven.
73 - 82
Discusses reasons for the disparity between the fossil and archaeological records.
83 - 94
Some of the consequences of variations in the proportion of radiocarbon to ordinary carbon in the atmosphere are discussed. The possibility of a sporadic human presence in Scotland before the Holocene is explored. Population estimates and coastality are assessed for various millennia, and the chronologies of environmental change and human activities are summarized.
95 - 157
List of known radiocarbon dates.
159 - 164
167 - 183
Presents a broad review of some of the key issues in current studies of the Scottish Mesolithic: the evidence for the initial Postglacial colonization of Scotland; the significance of the coastal factor in Mesolithic economies; the particular role of shellfish in these coastal economies; and the special problems posed by the interpretation of the Oronsay shell middens.
185 - 220
The fundamental elements of material culture - essentially stone, bone and antler tools - surviving from the Mesolithic period in Scotland are described and discussed in terms of significance and chronology.
221 - 228
Discusses the creation and function of stone tools within their landscape context.
229 - 242
Considers the evidence for upstanding structures.
243 - 260
Aspects of the experience of weather, landscape, wildlife, and archaeological experiment gained during ten years' work with the Southern Hebrides Project are argued to offer scope for useful insights into the world of the Mesolithic hunter-gatherer.
261 - 268
Divided into two parts, chaired by Nick Barton and Paul Mellars respectively.
271 - 283
The Isle of Man lies in the middle of the Irish Sea and the archaeological evidence from the island indicates influences from both Ireland and Britain alongside insular developments. The island was settled extensively during the Mesolithic period and this evidence is examined and discussed in relation to the island context
285 - 297
Overview of the topic, noting that it presents similar problems to the subject in Scotland.
299 - 337
Reviews the evidence, noting a marked preference for coastal site location.
339 - 358
Provides a review of recently published research on the Mesolithic period in England. Re-examines the radiocarbon record for the Early and Later Mesolithic, and uses new isotopic studies on human bones to compare dietary behavioural patterns in the two phases. Argues that in the Early Mesolithic people practiced high logistical mobility, possibly accompanied by low residential mobility, contrasted with the Later Mesolithic when people may have made more frequent residential moves and hand high logistical mobility, but occupied smaller home territories.
359 - 368
371 - 392
Notes that no burials have been found in Scotland, and suggests possible reasons. PP-B
413 - 438
Puts forward a revised view of the hunter-gatherer stone age of southern Norway. Also aims to present a methodology of relevance to the existing Mesolithic chronology of Scotland.
451 - 458