Early Medieval Ecology and Landscapes

Ecology and Landscapes of Early Medieval Centres of Power

BennachieThis study aimed to reconstruct the vegetation history of northern Pictland in the first millennium AD as despite the wealth of archaeological information currently available regarding the Pictish people, very few studies investigated the impact of the Picts on the environment.

This was carried out by examining how changing records of vegetation and land use correspond with the religious, social and political evolution and the eventual emergence of the kingdom of Alba in the tenth century AD.

Core extracted from Craigmoss siteThe project drew upon information from a range of sites from former Pictish centres of power and their hinterlands to lower status sites inhabited by the majority of the population to reveal how power was ultimately drawn from the land.

Records of pollen, non-pollen palynomorphs, microscopic charcoal and peat geochemistry was obtained from sediment cores collected from peat bogs and chronologies were established using radiocarbon dating. This enabled the reconstruction of changes in vegetation and land use throughout the early medieval period and provided evidence for human activities such as woodland clearance, agriculture and metalworking.

The data generated by this project aimed to provide a wider landscape context to answer questions arising from the archaeological record and provide evidence for human-environment interactions in situations where more traditional forms of archaeological evidence are scarce.