Later prehistoric settlement in the Western Isles of Scotland
This study aims to establish an understanding of the nature of settlement development in the Western Isles in the period from c. 1000 BC - 800 AD. A new classification of the sites is formulated to deal with the specific Hebridean context and with the restrictions of the available evidence. This provides a framework for analysis and replaces previous schemes, imported from elsewhere in Scotland, which have tended to confuse the settlement patterns and the settlement development of the area. The large number of older excavations are reassessed in the light of both new approaches to classification and interpretation, and the evidence of recent survey and excavation. A coherent settlement sequence can be seen to emerge, showing a development of monumental architecture in the mid-lst millennium BC from a background of non-monumental domestic settlement: this monumentality persists for several centuries in the form of the atlantic roundhouses and wheelhouses before being gradually replaced by non-monumental, cellular and linear structures in the 1st millennium AD. Structural, locational and spatial analyses combine to demonstrate patterns of settlement development which show the progressive adaptation of Hebridean populations to the changing socio¬ economic context. The development of architecture is shown to be linked to contemporary social and economic processes. The environmental context of settlement development is shown to be of great significance in shaping broad trends of settlement development, while the specific responses of human groups indicate the importance of social factors. The final part of the study proposes possible models for the interpretation of settlement change. Material culture, including architecture, can be seen to be used actively in the negotiation of social relationships, both within the islands and between the islanders and the emerging states of Scotland in the 1st millennium AD.