Priority 1: How comparable was deforestation in Highland Perthshire to that in the pre-Roman Iron Age south of the Antonine Wall. The pre-Roman Iron Age in many places south of the Antonine Wall, is characterised by rapid and extensive deforestation. Population growth has been suggested as the key factor for such a regionally vibrant rural economy. Pollen sites at Rae Loch and Methven Moss suggest similarity, but many more detailed and dated regional pollen records are needed to test this fully, and to relate it to archaeological models.
Priority 2: Iron Age hillforts are large enough to have had measurable environmental impacts, however little work has been attempted to understand this. Some hillforts on broad summit plateaux were isolated from farmland in the lowlands, thus disentangling hillfort construction and maintenance from other land uses, as demonstrated recently at Moredun, Perth. Local deforestation, soil disturbance, geomorphic change and soil erosion, and the sourcing of exotic construction materials might all be detectable, and their dating would help define phases of human activity.
Priority 3: Research on waterlogged timbers from Iron Age crannogs have significant potential to inform our understanding of many aspects of Iron Age domestic life, which are not usually present on terrestrial sites. A broad reconstruction of the woodland resource available to the crannog builders around the lochs can be developed, as has been done for Oakbank crannog. It also offers potential to develop Iron Age tree-ring chronologies for the area, at least for oak, as part of the wider potential for Perth and Kinross to contribute to the development of dendrochronology for the prehistoric period in Scotland (Mills 2021).
Priority 4: There is a need for comprehensive environmental profiling of Roman sites and their immediate environs (up to 1km radius) which, as evidenced at Bearsden on the Antonine Wall (Máté and Bohnke 2016), could significantly enhance our understanding of sites and their landscape setting.
Priority 5: Palaeoenvironmental data could help to better understand the riverine and estuarine changes and to build a better picture of water courses across the Iron Age longue duree.It could therefore help to illuminate how rivers were utilised during the Roman presence. Historical and archaeological evidence indicates significant changes to river courses and other water courses since the Iron Age. The River Tay and its estuary is a good example (Strachan 2010) and includes notable erosion at Inchtuthil Roman fortress. As a result, our interpretation of the relationship between sites and the course and navigability of rivers and estuaries is compromised.
Priority 6: Improved palaeoenvironmental data linked to targeted excavation at, for example, river oxbows or palaeo-channels on the Carse of Gowrie and in the lower reaches of the River Earn could reveal the nature of river and littoral activity and the use of, for example, wooden trackways, fish-weirs, watercraft and crannogs in now-lost small open water bodies. Much of the area’s straths and lower lying areas, such as the Carse of Gowrie, were historically a diverse mosaic of woodland, bog and scrub containing smaller watercourses, very largely swept away since the post-medieval period. While thesewere widely used since at least the Bronze Age (Strachan 2010), the nature and extent of activity remains poorly understood. Improved understanding of palaeolandscapes could also inform our interpretation of the Roman response to these wetlands. Elsewhere in the Empire, wooden trackways and drainage channels were employed to exploit such areas and we might anticipate the same, if more short-lived, in Perth and Kinross.
Priority 7: The ScARF Roman priorities emphasise the value of more extensive environmental analysis at Roman sites, in particular dendrochronological dates when available, to assist with ongoing chronology debates (ScARF Roman section, 11). t is recognised this cannot happen in isolation; there are so far no Roman period dendrochronological reference chronologies anywhere in Scotland. Much wider support for dendrochronology development is required, within and beyond Perth and Kinross, to enable regional objectives like this one to be met. Long reference chronologies would need to be built back in time from later periods for native tree species in Perth and Kinross for this objective to be met.