|dc.description.abstract||Archaeological excavations were conducted by EASE Archaeology at the Knowe of
Skea on the island of Westray between 2000 and 2009 and discovered a multi-phase
site with evidence for activity dating from the Neolithic through to the Viking era.
Excavations revealed that the site had been used as a burial ground for a prolonged
period during the Iron Age. Human remains recovered during the first seasons of
excavations were radiocarbon dated to the turn of the first millennium BC/AD. These
dates highlighted the significance of this burial ground; burial evidence of Iron Age
date is sparse in Atlantic Scotland and often overlooked due to the lack of a
recognisable, dominant burial rite.
Burials of individuals of all ages, including a very high number of infants, were
recovered and represent the largest known collection of burials of this date from
Scotland. Iron Age research in Atlantic Scotland has traditionally been dominated by
study and discussion of the impressive stone-built architecture of domestic buildings
and working places of a population about which very little is actually known.
Examination of the burials from this site and comparisons with similar sites in the
Orkney Islands is building a greater understanding of the treatment of the dead in this
region during a period for which so little evidence exists. The burials had been
placed in the rubble of earlier collapsed buildings which appears to be a common
feature of many Iron Age burials in the Orkney Islands and north-eastern Scotland.
Site records, photographs and views of excavators were consulted and combined
with the results of the osteological analysis to determine burial patterns at the site
according to age, sex or burial location.
The large volume of infant remains recovered from the site created the possibility to
investigate such high infant mortality and the general health of infants and children.
High numbers of infant burials can often lead to suggestions of infanticide; the
likelihood of this is also discussed. The results of basic stable isotope analysis (13C
and 15N) were examined to interpret breastfeeding and weaning practice. The
evidence provided in the results of isotopic analysis was also used to interpret the
diet of this population and compared with archaeological evidence of diet from
excavation of domestic sites across Atlantic Scotland. Of particular interest was the
extent to which the population of the islands may have exploited marine and other
wild resources when compared with similar dietary studies in the rest of Scotland and
Results of osteoarchaeological analysis of the human skeletal remains from the
Knowe of Skea allowed a deeper understanding of the lifestyle and health of a
population for which there has been little evidence to date.||en
|dc.publisher||The University of Edinburgh||en
|dc.title||Life and death in Iron Age Orkney: an osteoarchaeological examination of the human skeletal remains from the burial ground at Knowe of Skea, Westray||en
|dc.type||Thesis or Dissertation||en
|dc.type.qualificationname||PhD Doctor of Philosophy||en