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H 290 x W 205 mm

202 pages

85 figures; 18 tables (63 pages in colour)

Published Oct 2019

Archaeopress Archaeology


Hardback: 9781789693157

Digital: 9781789693164

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Glenshee; Glen Shee; Lair; Perth and Kinross; Landscape archaeology; Early Medieval Settlement; Upland Perthshire; Pitcarmick; Farm complex; Outbuildings; Byre-houses; Turf buildings

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Early Medieval Settlement in Upland Perthshire: Excavations at Lair, Glen Shee 2012-17

By David Strachan, David Sneddon, Richard Tipping

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Excavation of seven turf buildings at Lair in Glen Shee confirms the introduction of Pitcarmick buildings to the hills of north-east Perth and Kinross in the early 7th century AD. Clusters of these at Lair, and elsewhere in the hills, are interpreted as integrated, spatially organised farm complexes comprising byre-houses and outbuildings.



List of Figures

List of Tables


List of Contributors


1. Introduction (Strachan and Tipping)
1.1 Background to the project
1.2 North-west European turf and timber houses: an international context for the excavations at Lair
1.3 The archaeological setting
1.4 Pollen-analytical evidence for land-use change in and around Glen Shee
1.5 Historical and political contexts
1.6 The Pictish language and place-names in and around Glen Shee
1.7 The catchment of the Allt Corra-lairige: geology, topography, soils and climate
1.8 Mapping of the field remains
1.9 Key sites in the study area
1.10 Research objectives

2. Results of Archaeological Fieldwork, Radiocarbon Dating, Peat-Stratigraphic and Pollen Analyses (Sneddon, Strachan and Tipping)
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Topographic and geophysical survey
2.3 Excavation
2.4 Geo-archaeological analyses
2.5 Radiocarbon dating
2.6 Peat-stratigraphic and pollen-analytical evidence for environmental and land-use change
2.7 Charcoal analysis

3. The Small Finds (Strachan and Sneddon)
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Lithics
3.3 Stone tools
3.4 A decorated stone spindle whorl
3.5 The iron objects
3.6 The vitrified material
3.7 The pottery
3.8 The glass bead
3.9 Animal bone

4. Discussion (Strachan, Tipping and Sneddon)
4.1 Introduction
4.2 Archaeological and pollen-analytical evidence for later prehistoric settlement and use of the uplands
4.3. A Late Iron Age–early medieval settlement continuum?
4.4 Lair immediately prior to the construction of the Pitcarmick buildings
4.5 Chronology and sequence of the buildings at Lair
4.6 The buildings at Lair: form and function
4.7 The buildings at Lair: turf, stone, timber and thatch
4.8 The buildings at Lair: spatial patterning
4.9 Re-visiting the morphology of Pitcarmick buildings
4.10 Early medieval buildings in the North Sea area
4.11 The socio-political context and geographic patterns of Pitcarmick buildings in north-east Perthshire
4.12 The rural economy at Lair AD 600-660 to AD 975-1025: palynological evidence and implications
4.13 The wider context of 7th century AD agrarian expansion
4.14 The function of Pitcarmick buildings
4.15 The social status of ‘Pitcarmick’ communities
4.16 After the ‘Pitcarmicks’

5. Conclusions
5.1 Introduction
5.2 Threats to the resource
5.3 The impact of the Glenshee Archaeology Project
5.4 Lessons learned
5.5 Potential for future research


Appendix A 


About the Author

David Strachan has worked in curatorial field archaeology in Wales, England and Scotland, at both national and local level, over the last 30 years. Having established the Historic Environment Record and planning archaeology service for Perth and Kinross in 2000, as Director of Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust he maintains interests in the Scottish ‘long’ Iron Age, intertidal and upland archaeology, and aerial photography.

David Sneddon has 20 years professional experience in archaeology, the last eight years of which were with Northlight Heritage where he was Project Manager. He recently co-founded Clyde Archaeology who provide archaeological and heritage services across the UK.

Richard Tipping has worked on problems of interpreting northern British landscapes since 1984 as a palaeo-ecologist, historical geomorphologist, geo-archaeologist and environmental historian. He has authored, co-authored and edited twelve books and more than 250 peer-reviewed and other contributions.


Devotees of upland field archaeology in Britain will be familiar with some of its eternal problems: inadequate chronological precision, few finds and often poor connectivity between structural data from settlement archaeology and landscape-level palaeoenvironmental studies. This attractively presented and sparingly written monograph shows that these issues can be substantially overcome with well-planned collaboration between field surveyors, excavators and palaeobotanists.