Priority 1: Archaeobotanical studies
Little is known about early medieval crop husbandry, agriculture practices and plant exploitation within the region, as until recently early medieval settlements have remained elusive. The discovery and excavation of sites, such as at Lair, Glen Shee (Strachan et al 2020) and Bertha Park (Engl 2020), and the corn-drying kiln at Kinross High School (Hastie in Cachart 2008) offer the opportunity for enhanced sampling for macroplant / archaeobotanical remains to inform our understanding of early medieval crop processing, agricultural practices and use of wild plants (see PKARF section 9.4 Archaeobotany). Sampling of any charred or waterlogged material from in-situ early medieval settlement remains / sites, should be a priority, with samples targeting deposits offering potential for the preservation of early medieval archaeobotanical / macroplant remains.
Priority 2: Dendrochronology
The Perth and Kinross area has potential to develop long native tree-ring chronologies including the early medieval period. Some surviving oak timber of the period has been identified from Loch Tay and Dundurn. Every opportunity should be taken to recover samples for dendrochronological analysis to develop tree-ring chronologies for this key region (Mills 2021). A successful tree-ring chronology would offer precision dating of to a year, as well as an annual climate record, woodland impact insights and other valuable environmental data. The development of such chronologies for Perth and Kinross is likely to depend upon accumulating data from a combination of archaeological and natural sub-fossil material, as has been achieved for native Scots pine further north, principally around the Cairngorms, though with some long-lived pine living tree data already collected from Perth and Kinross to start that process for pine here (Wilson et al 2011; Rydval et al 2017; Mills 2021). Oak is the timber species most likely to be encountered archaeologically and probably has the greatest promise for long chronology development and archaeological dating applications in the area, although other species including pine, alder, ash and elm also have potential and should not be dismissed. The Fortingall Yew signals the association between ancient trees and early medieval church sites which could be further investigated across Perth and Kinross.
Priority 3: Zooarchaeology
The available zooarchaeological evidence from lowland sites is scarce; and only slightly less so for the uplands. With new insights from elsewhere to draw upon, such as the Northern Picts, there is scope to explore this area further. New techniques, such as multi-isotope analysis, are available as new sites are investigated, or as previously ‘lost’ assemblages are reviewed, such those from Alcock’s excavations at Dundurn which are currently being dated by Aberdeen University.
Priority 4: Geoarchaeology
Inorganic phosphate analysis offers significant potential to understand domestic farming settlements (Banks 1996) and are particularly valuable in understanding turf-built Pitcarmick-type byre-houses. Ongoing PhD geoarchaeological research into occupation layers from Lair (Reid forthcoming) has highlighted the value of assessments of pH, electrical conductivity, magnetic susceptibility, organic matter content, multi-element analysis and micromorphology. It has been designed to identify activity areas within structures and characterise the post-depositional processes and offers significant opportunity for future research (see PKARF Section 9.3 Geoarchaeology).