The Atlantic Scottish Iron Age: five levels of chronology
Five forms of evidence are currently relevant to the archaeology of the Atlantic Scottish Iron Age. These are defined and evaluated to construct a sequence of structural and artefactual development. It is argued that a lack of clarity on the evaluation of dating methods is responsible for much of the confusion in the literature. Alternative chronologies to that constructed here are valid, but must be explicit on their evaluation of the dating evidence and on the weighting and primacy of dating levels. The terminology of the `Atlantic roundhouse' is introduced as a framework which enables conventional structural typologies to be more effectively analysed. Within the extended chronology and using the new terminology as a descriptive device, developments can be traced which offer new perspectives on the settlement sequence and undermine the unilinear models of the Atlantic Scottish Iron Age. Differences in development between the Northern and Western Isles are already becoming apparent. 14C dates for the Atlantic Scottish Iron Age are listed and critically discussed in an appendix.