Banks, Iain Bernard Joseph
Rural society & settlement: isolated monuments and farming communities in northern and western Scotland in the late Atlantic Iron Age.
PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.
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The thesis opens with a statement of the methodological approach of the research, explaining the use of a historical model to inform a field methodology of a combination of prospecting techniques. The model to be used is set out along with a consideration of the expectations of the field methodology and the hypothesis to be tested: that élite sites will have a concentrating effect upon settlement patterns and create "hierarchical" landscapes, in contrast to non-hierarchical landscapes which, in the absence of an élite site, will show no particular clustering. Following this is a statement of the problem of settlement studies in Scotland, with a consideration of previous and current approaches.
This is followed by discussion of the available prospecting techniques and a detailed discussion of the chemistry of soil phosphates. The historical and archaeological framework of the period is then presented with a consideration of the evidence available from legal and historical sources and from excavations carried out on élite sites. Agriculture is then discussed, firstly in terms of its productivity and then of the techniques of agriculture to assess the effect of agriculture upon settlement distribution.
Finally, the results of the fieldwork are presented, divided between hierarchical and non-hierarchical landscapes. The conclusion assesses the overall effectiveness of the methodology in terms of how well the hypothesis was proved and of the applicability of the methodology for amateurs and lone workers. The results indicate that the general model of social relations being reflected in settlement patterns is broadly correct, but that the effect will not necessarily be one of concentrating settlement around the élite site. At the micro-scale of analysis undertaken within the thesis, the important factor connected with élite sites was found to be the denoting of status by the possession of private space.
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