Towards a social archaeology of the mesolithic in Eastern Scotland : landscapes, contexts and experience
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The research reported here arose from perceived lacunae regarding archaeological understanding of mesolithic settlement in eastern Scotland. Historically this area, for a number of reasons, has seen 1ittle archaeological research in comparison to the maritime west of the country, a bias that requires redressing. The characteristics, problems and potentials of available data are assembled for the first time and critically assessed. Discussion of methodologies appropriate to this material is developed, and small-scale fieldwork undertaken within this framework presented. Any introduction of a new range of data is, in part, a construction of that data, and the particular interpretative and thematic stresses of the thesis arise from the argument that narratives of gatherer-hunter communities in the past have objectified those groups, consequently hindering comprehension of them. To this end an approach to a social archaeology of the mesolithic is developed, stressing the importance of examining skills and routines that, through thei; extension in particular contexts, may have structured an agent's experience of landscapes in the past. In order to flesh out these arguments and introduce the material evidence in more detail, a series of overlapping case studies is developed exploring in turn, the relationships between mesolithic folk and woodlands, the significance of salmon fishing, the inhabitation of the coast, and stone tool procurement, production and discard. These varied narratives incorporate the results of a range of small-scale desktop projects and fieldwork designed to test the potential of this approach to a social archaeology of the period. Whilst these studies are at present fragmentary, it is contended that they demonstrate that accounts of gatherer-hunter communities in the east of Scotland can aspire to a meaningful level of engagement with human lives in the past. The project scholarship was funded by Historic Scotland.