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Scotland's first settlers: the Mesolithic seascape of the Inner Sound, Skye, and its contribution to the early prehistory of Scotland

Hardy, K. and Wickham-Jones, C. (2002) Scotland's first settlers: the Mesolithic seascape of the Inner Sound, Skye, and its contribution to the early prehistory of Scotland. Antiquity, 76 (293). pp. 825-833. ISSN 0003-598X

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The Mesolithic occupation of Scotland began soon after the end of the last glaciation, between 10,000 and 9000 years ago. Considerable research has been undertaken in the past two decades (Mithen 2000; Pollard & Morrison 1996; Woodman 1989; Young 2000); much has been published, more is awaited, and work continues apace. Mesolithic sites occur throughout Scotland, though recent archaeological activity has been concentrated on the western seaboard.

The coastal nature of much of the Scottish Mesolithic has long been recognized, although the contribution of inland sites is becoming more apparent. The relationship between shell middens and lithic scatters and the nature of the midden sites themselves are slowly becoming clearer (Bonsall 1996; Finlayson 1998), though the make-up of the material culture remains vague, as known early sites with preservation of organic materials are few and far between and specialists remain divided over their interpretation. More widely, it is generally recognized that the Mesolithic occurred during a time of dynamic environmental change although the impact on the human population remains to be documented.

It was in this context that the Scotland's First Settlers (SFS) project was set up in 1998. SFS chose to concentrate on an area of known Mesolithic potential: the Inner Sound--a body of water between the Isle of Skye and the Scottish mainland. Previously recorded sites in the area include the midden at An Corran (Saville & Miket 1994) and lithic scatters at Redpoint (Gray 1960) and Sheildaig (Walker 1973) (FIGURE 1). Although Mesolithic work has long been biased towards coastal projects, the potential of the coastal zone was so great that it was decided to target the seascape for research, while focusing particularly on issues of local mobility, resource exploitation and early Holocene climate (Finlayson et al. 1999 & forthcoming; Hardy & Wickham-Jones 2000a; 2000b; 2001a; forthcoming a; forthcoming b).

Item Type: Article
Institution: The University of York
Academic Units: The University of York > Archaeology (York)
Depositing User: York RAE Import
Date Deposited: 27 Aug 2009 15:12
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2009 15:12
Published Version: http://www.antiquity.ac.uk/Ant/076/0825/Ant0760825...
Status: Published
Publisher: Antiquity Publications
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/5602

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