A landscape given meaning: an archaeological perspective on landscape history in Highland Scotland.
PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.
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In Highland Scotland, evidence for Early Medieval and Medieval settlement has proved difficult to recognise, in spite of the fact that recent landscape survey has revealed a dense palimpsest of archaeological remains. The publications of North-east Perth in 1990, the first RCAHMS volume to take a more landscape oriented approach to the recording and presentation of this survey data, made available a wealth of material for a previously little known area of Perthshire. It resulted in the identification of a new building group - the Pitcarmick-type buildings - to which a Medieval, or potentially earlier date, was assigned. It raised the possibility that the general absence of firs millennium A.D. settlement across much of Highland Scotland was not the case in this part of Perthshire, while suggesting the potential for building upon the resource made available by the RCAHMS to further our understandings of upland settlement and land use in the Highlands over a broad chronological framework.
This thesis aims to explore ways in which this data can be approached in order to achieve more comprehensive and meaningful understandings of cultural landscapes. This has been done by approaching the archaeology of a particular area - in this case Highland Perthshire - within a variety of temporal and geographical scales. At Pitcarmick North in Strathardle, detailed topographic survey of a discrete area, where the remains spanned a broad chronological range from the later Prehistoric period to the eighteenth century, was undertaken. By utilising the landscape to anchor the often divergent and competing strands of evidence produced by detailed documentary research, alongside analysis of the physical remains at Pitcarmick North, it has been possible to glean a greater comprehension of the immediate historical and social frameworks within which these cultural landscapes developed.
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