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Durham University

Department of Archaeology


Publication details for Professor Mike Church

Gregory, R A, Murphy, E M, Church, M J, Edwards, K J, Guttmann, E B & Simpson, D D A (2005). Archaeological evidence for the first Mesolithic occupation of the Western Isles of Scotland. The Holocene 15(7): 944-950.

Author(s) from Durham


The examination of eroding coastal dunes at the prehistoric site of Northton, Harris, has produced the first archaeological evidence of Mesolithic activity in the Western Isles in the form of two midden-related deposits. The first phase of Mesolithic activity is dated to 7060/6650 cal. BC based on
AMS dating of charred hazelnut shells. This discovery appears to validate the frequent pollen-based inferences of Mesolithic impact for the area and, as predicted, allows the Atlantic fringe of Scotland to become part of the European Mesolithic mainstream. A detailed pedological analysis also suggests that
these early midden layers may have been amended during the Neolithic period as part of a possible phase of cultivation.