Ceramics and regionality in the Highlands and Northern Isles of Scotland, 2500-1800BC
Scholma-Mason, Owain David
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This thesis considers the nature of pottery and its wider roles in the Highlands and Northern Isles of Scotland from 2500-1800 BC. The period under study represents a key moment in British prehistory with the introduction of metallurgy and wide-ranging changes in society. Since the inception of early Bronze Age studies pottery has played an important role in examinations of identity and chronology. As identified by several scholars there has been a recurrent emphasis on a select number of interpretive themes and regions such as Wessex and Aberdeenshire. This has marginalised certain areas creating an imbalance in our understanding of the tempo and dynamics of change during the period. Recent reviews have begun to address this issue, highlighting the importance of regional studies to our overall understanding of change in the later 3rd millennium. At present, there is no synthesis of ceramic material from the Highlands and Northern Isles that considers the diverse array of pot types and the contexts in which they are found. In response, this thesis aims to characterise the range of ceramic types, their contexts and associations. Through the course of this thesis a series of detailed regional datasets and interpretations are constructed. This is coupled with a review of the longer-term ceramic sequence across the study area, situating the advent of novel pot types within the existing ceramic repertoire. Secondly, this thesis examines the dynamics of ceramic similarity and difference, and what this reveals about regional preferences and identities alongside broader intra and supra regional networks. Drawing on recent relational approaches this thesis explores how ceramic categories came into being, persisted and dissipated at a range of scales. These approaches highlight the fluid nature of change and the need to consider pots as elements of wider assemblages. Through this examination it is possible to detect distinct trends in regional ceramics, allowing for the construction of narratives that extend beyond defining visual similarities, contributing towards understanding the wider significance of similarity and difference.