An Assessment for the Case of Shared Traditions in the North Channel Region: Site morphology and settlement distribution during the 1st Millennium BC to 1st Millennium AD
Werner, Shelly D
The seaways appear to have been a prevalent means of travel in the past as observed in the evidence of contact and trade between regions. The Irish Sea between Britain and Ireland was part of a maritime network traditionally termed the Atlantic Seaways that linked these islands and the Continent. Communication across the North Channel between Western Scotland and northern part of Ireland may have been demonstrably easier during the later prehistoric period than movement looking eastwards across the Central Highlands of Scotland. Thus, these areas possibly developed into a ‘North Channel’ region as opposed to the sea creating a cultural divide. This idea is explored through a series of comparisons between sites either side of the North Channel. Three specific areas are targeted for the overall research, Argyll, the coastline of Northern Ireland and Co. Donegal. Both the individual architectural features and site distributions in relation to their locations within the landscape are investigated through an integrated approach. Firstly, a fine scale examination of the morphology of settlement sites using a common classification scheme explores the degree of structural comparability between these areas. The second approach is at a broader scale that statistically tests the distribution of site types with regards to specific landscape variables, including elevation, slope and aspect to identify spatial patterns. The third approach statistically tests the location of sites with regards to visibility to determine whether or not the locations of sites have particular visibility features and the comparability between the three study areas. This technique uses the Viewshed tool available in GIS software. It is argued that broad comparisons exist between Scotland and Ireland in site classifications, their distributions and vistas, which illustrate the degree of communication occurring between the study areas. Sites dating to the 1st millennium BC in Argyll and Co. Donegal exemplify similar distributions with regards to vistas and to a lesser extent the environmental variables. A few general structural features are similar between sites in Northern Ireland and Co. Donegal during this period; however, interpretations on the former also indicate that possible influences are also coming from outside the study region. Around the turn of the millennium to the beginning of the 1st millennium AD, communication links between Co. Donegal and Argyll appear to dwindle and the number of sites in Northern Ireland begins to increase. Around mid 1st millennium AD, sites in Co. Donegal illustrate features and distributions comparable to both Argyll and Northern Ireland, suggesting communication links are re‐established during this period.