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Fields and Farming-Systems in Bronze Age Scotland

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Abstract

Traces of prehistoric agriculture are found widely in the Scottish landscape , but, unlike in southern England, there is little evidence of enclosed fields. Thus, the interpretation of enclosed English field-systems as evidence for the intensification of agricultural production in the Middle Bronze Age carries an implication of non-intensive production further north. This paper analyses the contemporary domestic and agricultural components of the Scottish landscape to argue that they indicate in extenso systems of farming in which stock and crops were largely kept separate, thus rendering permanently enclosed fields unnecessary. Rather than being entirely sedentary, settlements and their cultivated fields moved at intervals in a dynamic system where a location was sequentially occupied, unoccupied and re-occupied on numerous occasions, and the surrounding ground was cultivated or reverted to pasture as appropriate. Similar sequences of occupation and re-occupation may be observed in southern England, and the differences in the farming-systems in operation may not be as great as has been suggested.

Keywords

  • Scotland
  • Field systems
  • Burnt mounds
  • Boundaries

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Fig. 7.1
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Notes

  1. 1.

    The overall range of dates from burnt mounds, however, extends from the Neolithic to the early medieval period.

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Halliday, S. (2021). Fields and Farming-Systems in Bronze Age Scotland. In: Arnoldussen, S., Johnston, R., Løvschal, M. (eds) Europe's Early Fieldscapes . Themes in Contemporary Archaeology. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-71652-3_7

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