The Utilisation and Exploitation of Plants at Norse Age Sites in the North of Scotland: A Study Embracing Sites in Caithness, Orkney and Shetland

Andrew, Colin R. W (1994) The Utilisation and Exploitation of Plants at Norse Age Sites in the North of Scotland: A Study Embracing Sites in Caithness, Orkney and Shetland. MSc(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

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In this thesis, I will examine the utilisation and exploitation of cultivated and wild plants with particular reference to the subsistence economies and to the material culture in Caithness, Orkney and Shetland (Fig 1) during the Norse Period. In doing so, I would seek to present a case to suggest that in many instances it is possible that cultivated plants, other than just cereals, together with wild plant species were exploited intentionally as an important food, culinary, medicinal and material resource in the domestic economy. The opportunity will be taken in Chapter 1 to look at the geology, soils and climatic information that is available. Consideration will also be given to the various pollen analytical investigations which have been published and which will provide an insight into the past ecology of these land masses. All this information will help to provide a picture of the past environment, the available plant resources and the conditions for plant production. In Chapter 2 a range of written sources will include reference to the Orkneyinga Saga and will also take account of the available information that can be derived from the study of place-names and their distribution. A wealth of ethnohistorical information will be taken account of in Chapter 3, with particular attention to the traditional lifestyle of the past communities living in the Northern latitudes. This information will allow, to a great extent, the reconstruction of earlier times to be made. The role of Chapter 4 will be to briefly present details of the archaeological excavations at the sites that have been included in this study; and to provide the detailed evidence from the sites of the I domestic economies with particular reference to the crop plants and other plant remains that have been identified to date. In Chapter 5 an analysis will be undertaken of the available evidence of both cultivated and wild plant resources with a view to assessing their role and importance in the economic strategies and sociopolitical needs of the Norse communities. Past recorded uses will be taken into account in proposing the potential uses of many of the plant specites discovered on the sites. Particular attention will be given to relating such information to the dietary/medicinal needs as well as the potential craft and industrial uses. The means by which plant material came to be carbonized will also be considered, and the likely availability and sources of tree species will be taken account of. The intention of Chapter 6 will be to consider and compare the evidence of plant remains from other sites of comparable age in Britain, Ireland and Scandinavia, with particular attention to faecal deposits. Such undisputed evidence of dietary food sources will provide a useful comparison of plant species being consumed on these sites with those found on the sites within the study area. In the final. Chapter 7, it is proposed to outline the main conclusions of the study and to indicate possible areas of future research.

Item Type: Thesis (MSc(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Additional Information: Adviser: Christopher Morris
Keywords: Archaeology
Date of Award: 1994
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1994-75544
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 19 Nov 2019 19:30
Last Modified: 19 Nov 2019 19:30

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