9.3 Settlement Evidence

Comparison with the National ScARF could provide us with a dim view of the medieval archaeology of the Highlands. The accompanying medieval ScARF report by Sarah Thomas noted that in the 25 years up to 2012, fieldwork on demonstrably medieval sites had been notably scarce in the Highlands, (ScARF Medieval Section). Rural settlement research for the medieval period suffers from the palimpsest of reuse so that recognising medieval rather than later structures is difficult, as they can be over-written. Perhaps as a direct consequence, few Highland sites are mentioned in the National ScARF.

The National ScARF noted there were fewer than ten medieval houses on the mainland dated between AD 400–1100, although the early medieval Structure 1 at Portmahomack can be counted in this group, and few buildings earlier than 1200 still standing (ScARF Medieval section 1.4).  The lack of identified Medieval rural settlements remains a mystery across lowland and Highland zones and further work targeting the missing agricultural strategies is still needed (ScARF Medieval section 3.3).

9.3.1 Landscape Patterns

9.3.2 Building Traditions

9.3.3 Burghs

9.3.4 Castles and High Status Sites

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