Lake and crannog: A 2500-year palaeoenvironmental record of continuity and change in NE Scotland

Samantha Jones, Michael John Stratigos, Olalla López-Costas, Antonio Martínez-Cortizas, Timothy Mighall, Gordon Noble

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Wetland environments have been important resources for human habitation since prehistoric times and in parts of northern Europe these have witnessed the construction of artificial islet settlements, known as ‘crannogs’ in Scotland and Ireland. This paper presents a high-resolution multi-proxy palaeoenvironmental study from the Loch of Leys, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, the site of a recently excavated crannog that provides a chronological context for its inhabitation. The combined datasets demonstrate that the first occupation from AD 20-210 coincided not only with a transitional phase from lake to wetland (mire) but also with the timing of the first major Roman campaigns in northeast Scotland. Techniques including microfossil analysis, geochemistry, IR-spectroscopy and physical properties integrated with archaeological and historical records have helped to better define both natural changes that took place in the wetland environment and human activity (agriculture, fires, metal working) spanning the Roman Iron Age through to the present. This has allowed a better understanding of the responses of existing Iron Age communities to Roman military activity (e.g. through continuity or change in land use) as well as the resources exploited in frontier zones during the Roman and post Roman eras. This has wider significance not just for Scotland but also for other parts of Europe that had similar frontiers and conflict zones during the Roman period.
Original languageEnglish
Article number107532
Number of pages22
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Early online date2 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

© 2022 The Authors


  • crannog
  • eastern Scotland
  • environmental change
  • Roman Iron Age
  • Early and post medieval
  • palynology
  • Geochemistry

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