3.10 Land and Environment Research Recommendations

The recommendations below apply specifically to the Highlands.

Many research questions from the original National ScARF and other regional research frameworks are also relevant and applicable in the Highlands. These will soon be all be searchable and available all together through our new digital platform facility.

General

HARF Agenda 3.1: Further dendrochronological work should be undertaken to provide dating, examine issues of native vs imported timber, and contribute to climate studies.

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Timber should be sampled as a matter of course during renovation or excavation work, and samples stored, even if too small at present to be analysed. This should be added to conditions in HES repair grants and planning consents.

Status:
Active
Authority to change status:
Date accepted:
01/09/2021
Date of next review:
01/09/2024
Found in the following Frameworks:
The Scottish Archaeological Research Framework

HARF Agenda 3.2: Sites under threat from reforestation or bombing must be thoroughly investigated before lost.

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Areas damaged by historic military training such as Cul na Croise, Lochaber or bombing should be assessed in the same way Cape Wrath has been done (RCAHMS 2009). 

Status:
Active
Authority to change status:
Date accepted:
01/09/2021
Date of next review:
01/09/2024
Found in the following Frameworks:
The Scottish Archaeological Research Framework

HARF Agenda 3.4: There needs to be greater connections between academic archaeologists publishing material and those doing excellent fieldwork and research on the ground across the region.

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Status:
Active
Authority to change status:
Date accepted:
01/09/2021
Date of next review:
01/09/2024
Found in the following Frameworks:
The Scottish Archaeological Research Framework

HARF Agenda 3.5: Individuals and groups should be trained in scientific techniques for interpreting and sampling sites, and for detailed artefact analysis. This training should be built into project plans and funding applications. 

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Status:
Active
Authority to change status:
Date accepted:
01/09/2021
Date of next review:
01/09/2024
Found in the following Frameworks:
The Scottish Archaeological Research Framework

HARF Agenda 10.3: Reforestation targets and peatland restoration will result in large destruction, and all activities should be researched and investigated before planting. Archaeology can also help to inform how this works in a fair and sustainable way. 

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Status:
Active
Authority to change status:
Date accepted:
01/09/2021
Date of next review:
01/09/2024
Found in the following Frameworks:
The Scottish Archaeological Research Framework

HARF Agenda 5.2: Any fieldwork that has not yet been published fully needs to be brought to that state, with any outstanding specialist work (including radiocarbon dating) carried out.

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There are several very important sites (such as the Lower Slackbuie ASDA site) whose publication status remains provisional, in the realms of ‘grey literature’. The Lower Slackbuie ASDA site is better than some insofar as the specialist reports have been completed and are available (along with an interim report, effectively the Data Structure Report) through the Highland HER, and yet there remains no full presentation of the radiocarbon dates obtained during post-excavation work, and apparently no funds are forthcoming to bring this site to full final publication. Moreover, here as at Culduthel nearby, several fieldwork interventions have been undertaken by different archaeologists at different times, and there is a need to integrate and publish the results of all of these as a single publication. In the case of several excavations in Highland Region, no specialist post-excavation work has been undertaken. Among the many frustrations of this state of affairs is that claims made by excavators for the presence of specific kinds of Neolithic pottery are suspect; examples of where mis-identifications have been made are given in Section 5.4.3.1. In the case of the important Canna Neolithic settlement mounds (Gannon 2016), where some initial specialist work has been undertaken (Sheridan 2015), full publication of all these sites by the National Trust for Scotland is highly recommended.
Status:
Active
Authority to change status:
Date accepted:
01/09/2021
Date of next review:
01/09/2024
Found in the following Frameworks:
The Scottish Archaeological Research Framework

HARF Agenda 5.5: A definitive and fully-documented listing of radiocarbon dates is crucial for ensuring that the many pieces in the complex jigsaw of evidence for the Highland Region can be put in their correct places.

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Dataset 2.1 contains all published examples found during the construction of HighARF, but misses many, in part because there is no central register of radiocarbon dates and no systematic reporting of dates from developer-funded excavations, and in part because many dates remain buried in grey literature, or indeed were produced after the initial DSRs were completed and have never been published. These data, as in other periods, are essential to any study of the Highland Region. Upgrading of Dataset 2.1 should include provision of a narrative regarding the context of each dated sample. Furthermore, the establishment of a system of annual reporting of all dates obtained through developer-funded excavation projects and research projects, analogous to the National Museums’ Scotland annual radiocarbon date round-up in Discovery and Excavation in Scotland, is strongly recommended.

Status:
Active
Authority to change status:
Date accepted:
01/09/2021
Date of next review:
01/09/2024
Found in the following Frameworks:
The Scottish Archaeological Research Framework

Environmental

HARF Agenda 3.10: Targeted research is needed in our gaps, for example Easter Ross, the Great Glen, and Ardnamurchan. Areas of high erosion (for example, as identified by SCAPE and Dynamic Coast, as well as on inland waterways) should also be targeted.

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Status:
Active
Authority to change status:
Date accepted:
01/09/2021
Date of next review:
01/09/2024
Found in the following Frameworks:
The Scottish Archaeological Research Framework

HARF Agenda 3.11: We need to understand whether the model of increasing acidification was a continuous or an interrupted or reversible process

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Are we missing human life span periods in which the curve flattened out?.

Status:
Active
Authority to change status:
Date accepted:
01/09/2021
Date of next review:
01/09/2024
Found in the following Frameworks:
The Scottish Archaeological Research Framework

HARF Agenda 3.12: We need well-dated studies which are essential to allow changes and transitions to be explored.

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Status:
Active
Authority to change status:
Date accepted:
01/09/2021
Date of next review:
01/09/2024
Found in the following Frameworks:
The Scottish Archaeological Research Framework

HARF Agenda 3.3: Projects should have environmental archaeologists as part of the design team at the start. Too much post-excavation work is being done in hindsight and working with available material, rather than chosen samples. For example, domestic hearth residues should be routinely sampled, providing information on fuel use and resource management. 

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Status:
Active
Authority to change status:
Date accepted:
01/09/2021
Date of next review:
01/09/2024
Found in the following Frameworks:
The Scottish Archaeological Research Framework

HARF Agenda 3.6: Gather together environmental studies which have been done in the Highlands, with different geographical areas clearly indicated.

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Much of this will come from DSRs, but also from non-archaeological studies. Where are the gaps? What local and regional pictures are emerging? This will allow any future work to be placed in local context. This synthesised work should made easily publicly available.  
Status:
Active
Authority to change status:
Date accepted:
01/09/2021
Date of next review:
01/09/2024
Found in the following Frameworks:
The Scottish Archaeological Research Framework

HARF Agenda 3.7: More collaborative work between archaeologists and scientists involved with environmental reconstruction is needed.

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This is a Scotland-wide issue, but is needed here in the Highlands. The collaboration should be two ways, with a far greater contribution from the region’s archaeology into the projects undertaken and outcomes produced by natural heritage researchers. All work needs to be underpinned with more precise radiocarbon dating practice, with much greater attention to precise context sampling, greater taphonomic understanding (and testing) and use of Bayesian statistics to create human life span chronologies. 
Status:
Active
Authority to change status:
Date accepted:
01/09/2021
Date of next review:
01/09/2024
Found in the following Frameworks:
The Scottish Archaeological Research Framework

HARF Agenda 3.9: More investigation of other sources beyond pollen and charcoal, important though these are, is needed.

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For example, non-pollen palynomorphs can provide evidence on grazing animals, and information on storm events. Testate amoebae can provide information on paleohydrology which has changed in an area, and can be linked to climate change.
Status:
Active
Authority to change status:
Date accepted:
01/09/2021
Date of next review:
01/09/2024
Found in the following Frameworks:
The Scottish Archaeological Research Framework

Multiperiod Settlement

HARF Agenda 3.13: For all periods, large open excavation should be the preferred option, with good multi-proxy environmental sampling built into the research plan, with a suite of post excavation costed from the start.

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This has profound implications for development-led projects and activities on scheduled monuments, and is part of a national discussion. 
Status:
Active
Authority to change status:
Date accepted:
01/09/2021
Date of next review:
01/09/2024
Found in the following Frameworks:
The Scottish Archaeological Research Framework

HARF Agenda 3.14: Landscape multidisciplinary approach integrating historical sources where available is needed through most of the Highlands, to complement the work done at Lairg.

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Status:
Active
Authority to change status:
Date accepted:
01/09/2021
Date of next review:
01/09/2024
Found in the following Frameworks:
The Scottish Archaeological Research Framework

HARF Agenda 3.15: A landscape, multidisciplinary approach integrating historical sources where available is needed to gain a better understanding of the patterning of settlement within the changing climates and relative to natural and seasonal resources. 

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Status:
Active
Authority to change status:
Date accepted:
01/09/2021
Date of next review:
01/09/2024
Found in the following Frameworks:
The Scottish Archaeological Research Framework

HARF Agenda 3.16: Further investigation into multi-period dune sites and coastal lithic working centres is needed.

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Some of the major Scottish sites are in the Highlands (Culbin Sands, Littleferry, Fendom Sands), though have not received the attention they deserve. Other shell midden and lithic working sites should be assessed and integrated into this picture. Further work on dune formation in these areas would also be useful. 
Status:
Active
Authority to change status:
Date accepted:
01/09/2021
Date of next review:
01/09/2024
Found in the following Frameworks:
The Scottish Archaeological Research Framework

HARF Agenda 3.17: More attention is needed towards identifying turf construction and survival.

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 It was used throughout many periods and has potential to fill in settlement gaps. 
Status:
Active
Authority to change status:
Date accepted:
01/09/2021
Date of next review:
01/09/2024
Found in the following Frameworks:
The Scottish Archaeological Research Framework

HARF Agenda 3.18: There is a need to reconstruct much more credible and nuanced landscapes through collaborative projects involving archaeologists, geologists, soil scientists, ecologists and palynologists, historians and ethnologists to broaden and deepen our understanding of the land-use capability of the Highlands,

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Status:
Active
Authority to change status:
Date accepted:
01/09/2021
Date of next review:
01/09/2024
Found in the following Frameworks:
The Scottish Archaeological Research Framework

HARF Agenda 3.19: There is a need for a much better understanding of the architecture of the region by excavation and post-excavation projects

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Status:
Active
Authority to change status:
Date accepted:
01/09/2021
Date of next review:
01/09/2024
Found in the following Frameworks:
The Scottish Archaeological Research Framework

HARF Agenda 3.20: Identify and exploit preserved interior floor sediments. 

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Status:
Active
Authority to change status:
Date accepted:
01/09/2021
Date of next review:
01/09/2024
Found in the following Frameworks:
The Scottish Archaeological Research Framework

HARF Agenda 3.21: Exploit the opportunities within rapidly buried architecture (i.e., burned in situ or buried), especially if sites with good floor levels can be identified. 

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Status:
Active
Authority to change status:
Date accepted:
01/09/2021
Date of next review:
01/09/2024
Found in the following Frameworks:
The Scottish Archaeological Research Framework

HARF Agenda 3.22: Investigate domestic structures and structures that resemble domestic structures (eg small henges, embanked cremation cemeteries). 

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Status:
Active
Authority to change status:
Date accepted:
01/09/2021
Date of next review:
01/09/2024
Found in the following Frameworks:
The Scottish Archaeological Research Framework

HARF Agenda 3.23: Investigate buildings within social hierarchies or for which the occupants change their social station. 

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Status:
Active
Authority to change status:
Date accepted:
01/09/2021
Date of next review:
01/09/2024
Found in the following Frameworks:
The Scottish Archaeological Research Framework

HARF Agenda 3.24: Investigate the interiors of buildings for gender- or age-related spatial variations. 

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Status:
Active
Authority to change status:
Date accepted:
01/09/2021
Date of next review:
01/09/2024
Found in the following Frameworks:
The Scottish Archaeological Research Framework

HARF Agenda 3.25: Investigate architectures that change seasonally ie winter and summer residences. 

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Status:
Active
Authority to change status:
Date accepted:
01/09/2021
Date of next review:
01/09/2024
Found in the following Frameworks:
The Scottish Archaeological Research Framework

HARF Agenda 3.26: Recognise and investigate non-monumental architecture or the architecture of the underclass or the itinerant. 

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Status:
Active
Authority to change status:
Date accepted:
01/09/2021
Date of next review:
01/09/2024
Found in the following Frameworks:
The Scottish Archaeological Research Framework

HARF Agenda 3.27: Better understand the behaviours that define a domestic roofed or enclosed space and a non-domestic roofed or enclosed space. 

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Status:
Active
Authority to change status:
Date accepted:
01/09/2021
Date of next review:
01/09/2024
Found in the following Frameworks:
The Scottish Archaeological Research Framework

HARF Agenda 3.28: Better understand the off-site archaeology (unassociated pits, hearths, post-holes, embankments, etc). 

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Status:
Active
Authority to change status:
Date accepted:
01/09/2021
Date of next review:
01/09/2024
Found in the following Frameworks:
The Scottish Archaeological Research Framework

HARF Agenda 3.36: Further investigation of coastal cave occupation through the ages is needed, combined with sea level studies.

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The Scotland’s First Settlers project provides a good basis to provide further investigation, and to compare with ongoing work in Easter Ross by the Rosemarkie Caves Project. Other areas of the Highlands should also be included, and the nature of the occupation through time investigated.

Status:
Active
Authority to change status:
Date accepted:
01/09/2021
Date of next review:
01/09/2024
Found in the following Frameworks:
The Scottish Archaeological Research Framework

Daily Life

HARF Agenda 3.29: Further work gathering pollen information into crops grown is needed, pulling together previous information and targeting gaps.

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Status:
Active
Authority to change status:
Date accepted:
01/09/2021
Date of next review:
01/09/2024
Found in the following Frameworks:
The Scottish Archaeological Research Framework

HARF Agenda 3.30: Attention to lipid analysis can provide additional information on diet and animal husbandry. 

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Status:
Active
Authority to change status:
Date accepted:
01/09/2021
Date of next review:
01/09/2024
Found in the following Frameworks:
The Scottish Archaeological Research Framework

HARF Agenda 3.31: Attention is needed on fishing through the ages, from domestic to industrial use, and its importance to local populations.

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Status:
Active
Authority to change status:
Date accepted:
01/09/2021
Date of next review:
01/09/2024
Found in the following Frameworks:
The Scottish Archaeological Research Framework

HARF Agenda 3.32: Attention towards boat building, and selection of resources is needed. For the historic period this can be linked to some documentary sources. 

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Status:
Active
Authority to change status:
Date accepted:
01/09/2021
Date of next review:
01/09/2024
Found in the following Frameworks:
The Scottish Archaeological Research Framework

HARF Agenda 3.33: Further work on undiagnostic objects in well-dated sites is needed, combined with wear analysis and residue testing to shed more light on use. Querns and spindle whorls are both good candidates, with many from dated Highland contexts. 

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Status:
Active
Authority to change status:
Date accepted:
01/09/2021
Date of next review:
01/09/2024
Found in the following Frameworks:
The Scottish Archaeological Research Framework

HARF Agenda 3.34: There is a need to much better understand how past peoples owned things, land and slaves. This may vary chronologically and geographically. Anthropological studies provide one method to address the issue. Identification and analysis of heirlooms is one which archaeology can help with for prehistoric societies. 

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Status:
Active
Authority to change status:
Date accepted:
01/09/2021
Date of next review:
01/09/2024
Found in the following Frameworks:
The Scottish Archaeological Research Framework

HARF Agenda 3.35: From the medieval period onwards the rich resources of storytelling, oral history and Gaelic literature can be explored further to further understand how people understood their lives and landscape.  

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Status:
Active
Authority to change status:
Date accepted:
01/09/2021
Date of next review:
01/09/2024
Found in the following Frameworks:
The Scottish Archaeological Research Framework

HARF Agenda 5.8: More, and a broader range of isotopic analysis, needs to be undertaken for human and (where possible) animal remains in order to clarify patterns of mobility

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Status:
Active
Authority to change status:
Date accepted:
01/09/2021
Date of next review:
01/09/2024
Found in the following Frameworks:
The Scottish Archaeological Research Framework

Are there research recommendations that you think are missing?

Why not add your comment below which will be flagged to ScARF (or get in touch with ScARF directly) and new questions will be considered for addition at the next revision.