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Archaeology in the Western Isles: the molluscan evidence

Law, Matthew 2018. Archaeology in the Western Isles: the molluscan evidence. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Abstract

Using assemblages of marine and non-marine mollusc shells from recent excavations in the Western Isles of Scotland, with reference to previously published studies, this thesis contributes to an enhanced understanding of the cultural palaeoecology of insular societies. Chaoter 1 sets out the topics that will be covered in this thesis. Chapter 2 introduces the methods and principles that drive molluscan analysis; Chapter 3 outlines the natural history of the Western Isles; and Chapter 4 the archaeology. Previous work on molluscs from the islands are summarised in Chapter 5, and emergent themes identified. Chapter 6 presents the results of analyses of new non-marine molluscan assemblages from 9 sites, ranging in date from the Mesolithic to the Norse period. Comparative data collected from a transect of samples for modern snails are also presented, along with a statistical meta-analysis of the data. Chapter 7 presents the results of marine shell analyses from 4 sites, ranging in date from the Early Bronze Age to the Norse period. The results are discussed in terms of their regional and wider significance in Chapter 8, and the thesis concluded in Chapter 9. Studying non-marine and marine molluscs from a wide range of sites across the islands has made important contributions to the archaeology of the Western Isles. The movement of new species of snail into and across the islands emphasises the connectedness of prehistoric communities across wider social networks on the Atlantic coast of Europe. The study of non-marine molluscs and the use of statistical analysis contributes to a broader understanding of taphonomy and site formation processes. Combined analysis of marine and non-marine mollusc shells highlights the agricultural practices and land use of prehistoric and Norse farmers. Studies of larger marine shells indicate changing tastes at the time of increasing contact with the Norse diaspora.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 26 June 2018
Last Modified: 08 May 2019 02:44
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/112757

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