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A study of marine exploitation in prehistoric Scotland, with special reference to marine shells and their archaeological contexts

Pollard, Antony John (1994) A study of marine exploitation in prehistoric Scotland, with special reference to marine shells and their archaeological contexts. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

The history of the study of marine exploitation in Scotland is outlined prior to the presentation of an overview of the evidence for its practice in both earlier and later prehistory. This overview is based on a corpus of Scottish prehistoric sites known to include evidence for marine exploitation. Marine shells are found on a variety of archaeological sites, many of which cannot be described as shell middens. They are defined in this work as sites given over to the primary processing and consumption of marine resources, most obviously represented by marine shells. A simple classificatory system is introduced in order to allow further discussion of the similarities and differences between various types of deposits. The material culture related to marine exploitation is discussed and ethnohistorical sources are used to demonstrate some of the ways in which similar elements of material culture have been utilised in more recent times. Issues discussed here include not only shellfish exploitation but also whaling, fishing and the use of seaweeds. The utilisation of various kinds of raw materials, of both terrestrial and marine origin, are discussed and their contextual relationship to marine resource residues considered. Discussion will then move on to focus more closely on a number of aspects relating to marine exploitation in both early and later prehistory. The 'Obanian' sites in Oban and Oronsay are used as a case study to examine the implications of shell middens being used over long periods of time and as places for burial. The results of survey and excavation work carried out on the 'Obanian' shell midden on Risga are used to supplement a discussion on the nature and role of shell middens. Discussion of the later period is centred upon a contextual study of settlement sites and the relationship between marine and terrestrial resources is discussed. This work draws to a close by considering the role of marine resources in prehistoric ritual practice. The implications of the deposition of marine shells in chambered tombs and the construction of chambered tombs over shell middens are discussed. In the later period the redeposition of midden material appears to play an important part in the development of substantial settlement complexes and may represent a change in the nature of ritual behaviour. The concluding chapter isolates what are felt to be the most important issues raised by this work.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Humanities
Supervisor's Name: Morrison, Dr. Alex
Date of Award: 1994
Depositing User: Miss Fiona Riggans
Unique ID: glathesis:1994-743
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 29 Apr 2009
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 13:25
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/743

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