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Living in liminality: an osteoarchaeological investigation into the use of avian resources in North Atlantic Island environments

Best, Julia 2013. Living in liminality: an osteoarchaeological investigation into the use of avian resources in North Atlantic Island environments. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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This thesis explores the use of avian resources within the Scottish and wider North Atlantic Island environment via archaeological bone and eggshell. Birds can provide a range of products including meat, eggs and feathers, however their archaeological investigation has frequently been both overlooked, and limited in its extent and application. By collating pre-existing avian data and combining it with new, in-depth analyses this thesis investigates bird use though time and space; firstly in the Scottish Islands (the primary area of study), and then contextualises this within the wider tradition of fowling archaeologically and historically in Iceland and the Faroe Islands. Mesolithic to Norse Scottish Island bird bone is used to develop our understanding of diet, wild resource exploitation, seasonal fowling activities, habitat use, and movement around the landscape. South Uist in the Outer Hebrides forms a major case study incorporating substantial primary bone analyses from Late Bronze Age to Early Iron Age Cladh Hallan, Norse Bornais and Norse Cille Pheadair. The full Scottish Island dataset is used to consider trends in bird use by period and location. Species presence, juveniles, medullary bone and SEM analysis of eggshell are used to investigate resource acquisition by season and location. The material reveals that seabirds played an enduring role, with key birds such as the gannet, auks, shag, cormorant and gulls being repeatedly exploited. Fowling is focused and diverse, often incorporating targeted species and several opportunistically caught taxa. Birds were acquired both locally and in fowling trips further afield. Variations in avian populations are observed; determining the resources available to human fowlers and investigating the impact of such exploitation. Analysing, integrating and interpreting the archaeological bird remains on this wide temporal and geographical scale has enabled a greater understanding of past bird use and role within North Atlantic Island diet, economy and life.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 09 Apr 2016 01:30

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