Possible Neolithic ard marks and field boundaries at Wellhill and Cranberry, Perth and Kinross, and an evaluation of current physical evidence for Neolithic farming in Scotland
Neolithic, Farming, Field boundaries, Ard marks, Cultivation soils, Scotland
Wellhill, Cranberry, Dunning, Perth and Kinross, Scotland
Although the Neolithic period is defined by farming, physical evidence for processes associated with farming are rare, with agricultural practices usually indicated by environmental and biomolecular proxies for domesticates such as pollen evidence, ceramic residues and lipids, animal bones, plant remains and stable isotope studies. This paper will, we hope, invigorate discussion on the recognition, interpretation and significance of physical traces of farming in Scotland. The starting point will be the summary of two excavations, Wellhill and Cranberry, both Perth and Kinross, in 2014 and 2016 respectively, part of the Strathearn Environs and Royal Forteviot (SERF) project. These cropmark sites revealed evidence for possible Neolithic farming in the form of possible ard marks and field ditches. There follows a synthesis of physical evidence for Neolithic farming in Scotland, drawing together evidence for ard marks, field boundaries, cultivation ridges, cultivated middens, and soils. Recommendations are made for recognising and interpreting such features on excavations, and the potential benefits of giving a higher profile to the act of farming in our narratives about Neolithic lifeways in Scotland and beyond are briefly explored.
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