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Investigations on Sanday. Vol 2. Tofts Ness: An island landscape through 3000 years of Prehistory Orcadian

By Stephen J. Dockrill, Julie M. Bond, R.A. Nicholson and A.N. Smith


NoTofts Ness is a peninsula at the north end of the Orcadian island of Sanday where mounds and banks represent a domestic landscape, marginal even in island terms, together with a funerary landscape. A combination of selective excavation and geophysical survey during 1985-8 revealed settlement and cultivation spanning Neolithic to Early Iron Age times, including burnt mounds and traces of plough cultivation. The Neolithic inhabitants of Tofts Ness appear not to have used either Grooved Ware or Unstan Ware, and it is suggested that this reflects a lack of status compared to the settlement at Pool. Instead, the pottery shares important links to contemporary assemblages from West Mainland Shetland, and this is echoed by the steatite artefacts. The link with Shetland remains visible into the Late Bronze Age. The upper levels of the main settlement mound contained the remains of stone-built roundhouses of the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age, of which the last survived to a height of 1.5m. A lack of personal items amongst the artefact assemblage again indicates the low status of the inhabitants. The economic evidence for all periods shows a mixed subsistence economy based on animal husbandry and barley cultivation, together with fishing, fowling and the exploitation of wild plants both terrestrial and marine. Important studies on the farming methods employed on Tofts Ness reveal a manuring strategy in managing small fields that was more akin to intensive gardening than field cultivation and a deliberate policy of harvesting the barley crop whilst under-ripe

Topics: Sanday, ; Tofts Ness, Prehistory, ; Neolithic to Iron Age settlement, ; Mixed substance economy
Year: 2007
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Provided by: Bradford Scholars
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