3.4 Settlement

Evidence for early Holocene settlement in South East Scotland comes primarily from surface scatters of lithic material such as the sites of the Tweed Valley. However, recent excavations along the southern shore of the Forth have produced middens at Musselburgh (Kirby et al 2020 Clarke and Kirby forthcoming) and possible shell midden evidence at Dalmeny (Jones 1998). More spectacularly, substantial house sites dating to the late 9th millennium have been excavated at Echline Fields South Queensferry (Robertson et al 2013) and at East Barns near Dunbar, East Lothian (Engl and Gooder 2021). These sites are suggestive of occupation over a considerable period possibly on a seasonal basis.

Echline Fields site with sunken floored structure (273) in foreground © Headland Archaeology
Echline fields plan of oval structure 519, ring groove structure 283 and northern pit arc © Headland Archaeology

Several smaller scale sites composed of pit features have been excavated at Cramond, Edinburgh (Lawson et al 2023), Daer Valley (Ward 2012 and 2017) and the terminal Mesolithic site of Garvald Burn, Scottish Borders (Ballin and Barrowman 2015). Both Cramond and Daer Valley are associated with substantial quantities of hazelnut shell and are perhaps evidence of short lived yet intensively used specialist processing sites. The Garvald Burn site in turn is perhaps more reflective of most sites initially recognised through lithic material and may have been a transit camp or task site associated with a mobile economic strategy.

Garvald Burn excavation © HES

Rich lithic scatter sites such as those of the Tweed Valley represent the location of disturbed sites (Wickham-Jones 2020), and out-with the work of Warren (2001) and Finlayson and Warren (2000) few have been comprehensively investigated. These sites are often composed of a mixture of chronological material indicating not only the use of the locations over several millennia but also possibly the reflecting biases that come with collection.

3.4.1 Howden – Evidence for Upper Palaeolithic Occupation

3.4.2 The Sites of the Forth Littoral and the recolonisation of South East Scotland

3.4.3 The Upland Sites of South Lanarkshire and Peebleshire

3.4.4 The Sites of the Tweed Valley