5.3 Organics

Despite the fact that Neolithic people will have relied on organic materials for all aspects of their life – from clothing to tools, containers, ornaments, structures and fittings, boats etc – organic artefacts (and organic remains in general) in Neolithic Scotland are, for most of the country, very rare indeed due to the adverse preservation conditions. In many areas, the record consists solely of fragments of charcoal from hearths or burnt structural timber. However, one important exception is the sandy parts of Orkney, from where several sizeable assemblages of artefacts of bone, antler and marine mammal ivory (plus small assemblages of wood and plant material artefacts) have been excavated (e.g. at Skara Brae and the Links of Noltland: Clarke 1976; 1989). Bone and antler objects have also been found in Neolithic contexts in the sandy areas of the Hebrides (e.g. at Northton on Harris: Simpson et al. 2006) and in both of these archipelagos, bone will have been used as a substitute for wood, which would have been in short supply. Well-preserved organic remains were also encountered in the waterlogged levels of the Neolithic crannog-like settlement at Eilean Domhnuill, Loch Olabhat, N. Uist (Armit 2004), but because of the cost of retrieving and conserving such finds, these were left in situ for the benefit of future generations.

5.3.1. Bone, antler and marine ivory (and shell will be included with these, even though technically it is inorganic)

5.3.2. Wood and other plant material

5.3.3. Textiles and animal skins

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