Before suggesting research questions and recommendations (see 10.9), it is useful to identify the regional post-medieval period strengths and weaknesses and to characterise these as either “within reach of a solution” (opportunities) or with no obvious solution (threats). Many of these relate to all periods, and are outlined in Chapter 3 which is relevant in this context.
- Large number of settlement remains, including individual buildings, townships, corn kilns, lime kilns and shielings, especially in upland locations though occasional survivals elsewhere as well.
- Large number of well-preserved mills and other industrial remains with good mapping and documentary evidence.
- Large number of surviving wartime remains.
- Large number of metal-detected finds, together with excavation and older museum finds, largely untapped for the information they can provide.
- Documentary sources, maps and aerial photographs can be integrated into the picture, with opportunities for further environmental work.
- Good evidence of industrial and craft activity.
- Napier Commission and Brand (or Deer Forest) Commission testimonies provide perspectives of the poorer tenants on many estates in the late 19th century.
- Improved arable farming destroyed pre-Improvement settlements particularly in the eastern Highlands.
- Afforestation in the last centuries has destroyed evidence in a number of locations including Great Glen and Badenoch and Strathspey.
- Limited investigation from human remains possible due to burials in long-used cemeteries.
- Lack of landscape studies, and few excavations of rural settlements.
- Access to estate papers – a vital source of information – is poor, and we simply don’t know what’s in a lot of these archives. Some are also in poor condition (a threat).
- Very little engagement with Gaelic material
- Rare use of multi-disciplinary approaches
- Lack of joined up working between fieldworkers and more academically minded archaeologists doing work in the region
- The first edition OS maps preserve a wealth of data which is in many cases untapped. There is great potential for mining this material, adding to heritage databases, and checking for remains on the ground.
- Dendrochronology holds great promise for dating, climate information, and evidence of native or imported timber.
- Intertidal areas hold much potential when investigating issues related to fishing, wrecks and wartime infrastructure.
- More integration of Gaelic sources.
- Archaeology has the possibility to provide nuanced interpretation concerning many of the historical narratives about settlement, industrial activity, and community interactions.
- Increased afforestation targets for coming years threaten a number of sites.
- Vernacular buildings are under threat from redevelopment and the ravages of time.
- Loss of local knowledge and oral tradition.
- Gaelic language loss is eroding our ability to fully understand many of the sources, both written and oral, and weakening ties between language and place.