The recording of this month’s UHI Archaeology Institute research seminar, which took place on Friday, September 24.
In Out of the Round: Continuity and connection to landscape in hut circle communities Hannah Genders Boyd, who was recently awarded the Archaeology Institute’s first MRes degree, outlines her research on Bronze and Iron Age roundhouse communities in western Scotland and their relationship with the local environment.
The focus of her investigation was a series of hut circles in the Achtercairn area of Gairloch, Wester Ross. Using pollen analysis (palynology), non-pollen palynomorph (NPP) analysis and microscopic charcoal, she reconstructed the landscape in which these structures were built and looked at how that landscape was used.
Instead of major episodes of woodland clearance, the evidence suggested a strong sense of continuity in the vegetation over the period covering the Early Bronze Age to Late Iron Age. This may indicate sustainable management of woodland resources over time.
There was, however, evidence of an environmental downturn at the end of the Bronze Age and the palaeoecological record suggests that the communities responded to this by adapting their subsistence strategies, shifting from arable agriculture to focus on pastoral farming.