Aspects of the late Atlantic Iron Age
The Scottish Atlantic Iron Age is recognised as falling into four periods, the EIA, MIA, LIA I and LIA II. Least is known of the LIA I, the immediate post-broch period. Original analysis of the C-14 record confirms these divisions; they result as a combination of the effects of the Trondheim calibration curve but mainly the history of archaeological survival and previous excavation strategy. A large data base of pins and combs is examined and analysed, following on the earlier work of Stevenson (1955a), because these are some of the more ubiquitous and chronologically sensitive artefacts belonging to the LIA. This provides the basis for a reconsideration of the nature of LIA settlement throughout the Atlantic Province as a whole, more particularly in the study area of Orkney and Caithness. There are still severe problems in recognising LIA, particularly LIA I activity. This analysis forms the basis for a case study of Orkney and Caithness from around the early centuries of the first millennium BC to the eighth or ninth century AD. A scheme is suggested for the structural developments witnessed over this period, and on the basis of the general trends observed, a social interpretation is put forward. An attempt is made to apply Fields of Discourse, which is contrasted with previous work in this area, because of its sound methodological approach. Archaeological application of the technique of access analysis is described and used to investigate how the use of space structured and reproduced these changing social relations. The shift from locally based power sources to more centralised, in relation to Orkney and Caithness more distant, sources of authority is demonstrated, and related to the development of the southern Pictish kingdom. This change reflects the move from intensive to extensive sources of power. Other aspects of social reproduction are examined to see if they fit within this framework. On analogy with contemporary situations elsewhere and the evidence to hand, the means by which this power may have been exercised, specifically changing agricultural practice and land tenure, and the ideological power of Christianity are speculated upon.