Cultivation Remains

Presumed later prehistoric cultivation remains, in the form of field systems, including lynchets, clearance cairns, cultivation scars and stone dykes, predominantly survive around the open settlement in the uplands of north-east Perth and Kinross (RCAHMS 1990). Due to the nature of their use, as monument types they can be extremely difficult to date. As with the hut circles, these apparently well-preserved remains suggest long histories of cultivation and animal grazing. However, they can be heavily truncated by later use and the extent to which they represent Iron Age activity is difficult to ascertain. For example, the various remains at Balnabroich represent probable use spanning the Neolithic to the late 1st millennium AD, and 18th and 19th century activity (MPK4032; RCAHMS 1990, 35). Iron Age activity amid similar patterns of recurrent settlement west of the River Tay has been evidenced in Strathbraan (Cowley 1997), however it was probably ubiquitous across the region’s inhabitable uplands. 

Aerial photograph of a vast landscape, showing a grey, circular structure, multiple round cropmarks and a large, rectangular feature with deep, almost parallel lines cut across the whole feature.
Grey Cairn at Balnabroich, with hut cirlces and cairnfield ©️ HES

The field systems and hut circles indicate prolonged settlement continuity at a landscape-wide level from the late prehistoric to the early historic period (Halliday 2007; Thoms and Halliday 2014). The dating of cultivation remains is highly problematic, however, as the landscapes in which the remains occur are multi-period and often with minimal, if any, stratigraphy. High resolution palaeoenvironmental study of features that includes sediments may offer a route for future study.