Revealed by waves: a stratigraphic, palaeoecological, and dendrochronological investigation of a prehistoric oak timber and intertidal peats, Bay of Ireland, West Mainland, Orkney

Timpany, S., Crone, A., Hamilton, D. and Sharpe, M. (2017) Revealed by waves: a stratigraphic, palaeoecological, and dendrochronological investigation of a prehistoric oak timber and intertidal peats, Bay of Ireland, West Mainland, Orkney. Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology, 12(4), pp. 515-539. (doi:10.1080/15564894.2017.1284960)

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Abstract

An oak timber was discovered in 2013 within intertidal peats at the Bay of Ireland, Stenness, Orkney, representing a unique archaeological find. Subsequent excavation and rescue of the timber took place in 2014 to investigate its stratigraphical relationship before further eroding. Dendrochronological and morphological study identified the timber as a possible radially split log, c. 150 years of age when felled. No dendrochronological match was possible, and a wiggle-match date obtained provided a Later Mesolithic felling date of 4410–4325 cal BC. This timber is the first and only evidence so far for the use of oak in Mesolithic Orkney. The timber is significant palaeoecologically, suggesting oak may have been indigenous to Orkney. This adds to a growing argument for the existence of areas of “true woodland”. Pollen evidence shows the timber was deposited within reedswamp, fringed by willow-birch carr-woodland, with oak unlikely to have been growing in the immediate location. High microscopic and macroscopic charcoal values indicate Later Mesolithic communities' exerted influence on this wetland using burning as a tool for landscape modification. It is unknown what the timber represents; it may have been for construction purposes or as a marker/possible landing place showing the path to the Loch of Stenness.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Hamilton, Dr William
Authors: Timpany, S., Crone, A., Hamilton, D., and Sharpe, M.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre
Journal Name:Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:1556-4894
ISSN (Online):1556-1828
Published Online:26 February 2017

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