4.1 Introduction

The local landscape provided most of the resources which sustained life and society in Iron Age Scotland, from the food on the table to the chariot in the yard. This section considers the evidence in two broad themes: food; and other resources. The intention is to move beyond conventional specialisms (animal bones, pottery and so forth) and tackle broader topics which they illuminate. For food, this may be termed a “field to feast” approach – trying to draw together different aspects to consider the agricultural cycle in its totality and its social context in terms of people’s eating habits. The manufacture and use of material culture can be considered in a similar context, starting from the resources of the landscape and considering how these were utilised. This is essentially a life-cycle approach; in this theme the obtaining of resources, their manufacture and aspects of their use are considered, with issues of fragmentation and deposition covered in a later theme.

It is easy to take a pragmatic approach to resource use based on availability and need, but post-processual perspectives on landscapes (Theme 3.1) caution against this. Although it is hard to approach such concepts, researchers should be aware that past conceptions of landscapes and their uses were very different from today’s. Useful research could be done in considering whether resources taken from the wild were seen as different from domestic ones (e.g. the use of deer v cattle), or whether resources from particular parts of the landscape (for instance marine resources, or those from bogs such as iron ore or peat) were conceived of and treated differently.

A full understanding of the production and procurement of resources requires an integrated ‘field to feast’ or life-cycle approach, considering the nature of the various stages from procurement/production, processing and storage, to consumption / use and deposition.

Studies considering evidence for different concepts of how various landscape resources were used would be valuable.

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