3.8 Research Questions and Agenda

The recommendations below apply specifically to the Late Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic periods in South East Scotland. 

Many research recommendations from the original National ScARF and other regional research frameworks are also relevant and applicable in South East Scotland. These will soon be all be searchable and available all together through our new digital platform facility.

SESARF Agenda 1: The need for targeted research programmes to be initiated including field excavation and the study of existing lithic material held in collections.

SESARF Agenda 2: The study of this early period has benefited greatly in recent years from sympathetic and consistent curatorial control especially within East Lothian and Edinburgh. Mesolithic sites may well be better identified by the opening (top-soil stripping) of large areas. However, both of the house sites at Echline Fields and East Barns were discovered using typical linear trench evaluations. At Greenan, South Ayrshire, the discovery of large lithic scatters during initial phases of fieldwork led to the topsoil stripping of a much larger area and the subsequent discovery of four Late Mesolithic hut structures within a substantial multi period archaeological landscape (Engl 2015).

Whilst successful at Greenan, the blanket use of such an approach is questionable especially where no lithic scatters or other nearby sites are present. A more useful and easier to implement system would be the incorporation of initial survey programmes (trial pitting, fieldwalking etc) within archaeological planning requirements as dictated by position (coastal, river terrace) and site history (known lithic scatters, previous work, nearby sites).

Where inland sites are obscured by substantial sediment sequences it is unlikely that any form of commonly employed evaluation techniques would discover them.

SESARF Agenda 3: A targeted excavation to be initiated at one of the large Tweed Valley confluence sites such as Springwood or Kalemouth. On the continent these site locations have provided burial evidence including evidence of inter personal violence.

SESARF Agenda 4: A detailed dating programme is recommended. Out-with the developer funded sites of the Forth Littoral the dating is sparse.

SESARF Agenda 5: Further analysis of lithic collections, including identification of Palaeolithic lithics. This would be especially beneficial within the large collections of the Tweed Valley such as at Craigsford Mains which contain a mix of early and late material. A focus on the identification of Late Upper Palaeolithic and Early Mesolithic material would be especially rewarding in terms of the improved understanding of the earliest settlement in the area.

SESARF Agenda 6: More attention is needed to locate inland sites by exploring major river courses out-with the Tweed Valley and investigation of forestry plantation sites.

SESARF Agenda 7: A targeted research excavation on coastal scatters between East Barns and the Esk.

SESARF Agenda 8: Further fieldwork on the Dalmeny Estate and an expansion of the area excavated at Cramond.

SESARF Agenda 9: Workshops to be initiated amongst lithic specialists in order to refine our understanding of lithic assemblages through consistent identification and use of terminology. This worked incredibly well during the Howick and East Barns investigations.

SESARF Agenda 10: An increased and up to date database to be created through targeted fieldwalking as well as incidental finds recognised during other archaeological work, would be beneficial to understanding of the area.

SESARF Agenda 11: Evidence for diagnostic raw materials within assemblages should be synthesised to shed light on movement during the Mesolithic.

SESARF Agenda 12: The transition between broad and narrow blade technologies in region should be subject to more substantial investigation.

SESARF Agenda 13: A synthesis of microlithic typology within the region and a more complete and detailed comparison with assemblages out-with the region.

SESARF Agenda 14: The intertidal zone and submerged landscapes off the Forth Littoral hold the potential for good preservation and should be targeted for archaeological research.

SESARF Agenda 15: The incorporation and expansion of existing amateur groups into research programmes. This would include programmes of lithic identification.

SESARF Agenda 16: Geoscience Research relating to deglaciation and environmental change should be summarised and made available to archaeology.

Are there research recommendations that you think are missing?

Why not add your comment below which will be flagged to ScARF (or get in touch with ScARF directly) and new recommendations will be considered for addition at the next revision.