Several Late Bronze Age settlements have been excavated and there is evidence, from Blackford, for settlement continuity extending from the Middle Bronze Age to the Late Bronze Age (MPK15814; O’Connell et al 2021, chapters 6–9 and 112–3) and indeed into the Iron Age too. Here, changes in house structure over time were discerned, with the Late Bronze Age roundhouses lacking the ring-ditches seen in the Middle Bronze Age houses. The construction of palisaded enclosures – a feature of the Middle Bronze Age settlement – seems not to have continued into the Late Bronze Age, although it was resumed during the Early Iron Age. A novel Late Bronze Age feature is the four-post timber structure, Structure 2F (O’Connell et al 2021, 84). While such structures have been suggested to be raised granaries in southern England, the excavators found no concentration of cereal grain that might confirm such an identification at Blackford (O’Connell et al 2021, 87).
Three of the excavated roundhouses at the Carn Dubh upland settlement produced Late Bronze Age radiocarbon dates. Alder charcoal from House 1 was dated to 1256–905 cal BC (GU-2427), and alder charcoal from House 5 was dated to 979–796 cal BC (GU-2430). While mixed charcoal (species not listed) from House 6 produced a less precise date of 1199–406 cal BC (GU-2431: Rideout 1995, 175, dates re-calibrated using OxCal v.4.4.4). Other dates for Carn Dubh indicate subsequent occupation during the Early–Middle Iron Age and a reoccupation in the early medieval period (Rideout 1995, 175).
Although narratives for the Late Bronze Age elsewhere in Britain suggest a move to enclosed settlement during this period, the evidence from Perth and Kinross generally does not support this. At Blackford, the Middle Bronze Age practice of enclosing roundhouses within palisaded enclosures does not seem to have extended into the Late Bronze Age. It remains to be seen whether the cropmark evidence for an enclosed settlement at Middlebank by Inchture (MPK6680) relates to Late Bronze Age activity or earlier or later activity.
As for the more substantial forms of enclosed sites that are referred to as forts, excavations at the lowland forts at North Mains, Strathallan (MPK1353; Barclay and Tolan-Smith 1990), and Dun Knock (MPK2004; Poller with Campbell 2015) near Dunning have returned Late Bronze Age dates. Although it should be noted that the taphonomy of the North Mains sample has been queried and an Iron Age date is preferred for this site (Lock and Ralston 2017). Likewise, although there has likely been some form of Late Bronze activity at Dun Knock, the radiocarbon dates originate from large ditch fills and therefore cannot be confidently used to securely date the enclosure’s construction (Poller pers comm). Further excavations by Strathearn Environs and Royal Forteviot (SERF; Poller forthcoming) on the lowland forts of Rossie Law (MPK1397; Poller and James 2012) and Ogle Hill (MPK1419; Poller 2015), in the Ochil Hills east of Auchterarder have produced evidence of higher elevation activity during the Late Bronze Age. On Rossie Law, radiocarbon dates ranging from 1200–800 BC have come from timber and ash lenses within the enclosure and residue from pottery located within the stone quarry behind the main visible bank (Poller pers comm). Although Bayesian analyses is yet to be completed, the data suggest that a large timber and stone enclosure was constructed during this period prior to later Iron Age reuse (Poller pers comm). Burnt occupation evidence dating to the Late Bronze Age was recovered from beneath a, presumably later, Iron Age stone bank on the summit of Ogle Hill (Poller pers comm). The full results for Dun Knock, Rossie Law and Ogle Hill are yet to be published (Poller forthcoming) but the dates obtained are promising for significantly increasing understanding settlement enclosure and defensive structures in the Late Bronze Age to Early Iron Age period.
As for the question of whether any crannogs were being constructed or used during the Late Bronze Age, the results of the Glasgow University Living on the Water project, focusing on the Loch Tay crannogs, has not found any evidence for pre-Iron Age examples of this specific type of habitation structure.
Finally, as for the suggestion that a climatic downturn around 1000 BC resulted in the abandonment of many upland settlements (Strachan 2010b, 49), there is currently insufficient evidence to corroborate or challenge that claim. What is needed is fine-grained chronological, palaeoenvironmental and settlement evidence.