Early Medieval Scotland
2007-2011: MA Geography, University of Aberdeen
2011-2012: MSc Environmental Science (Distinction) University of Aberdeen
Active research projects:
The Ecology and Landscapes of Early Medieval Royal Centres
Despite the wealth of archaeological information currently available regarding the Pictish people, including their enigmatic symbol stones, very few studies have been undertaken to investigate the impact of the Picts on the environment. To redress this research gap, the aim of this study is to reconstruct the vegetation history of northern Pictland in the first millennium AD with a focus on former Pictish centres of power and their hinterlands. By placing these locations into an environmental context, we hope to examine how changing records of vegetation and land use correspond with the religious, social and political evolution and the eventual emergence of the kingdom of Alba in the tenth century AD. Of primary interest is the impact that royal and monastic centres such as Portmahomack, Burghead and Forteviot had on the landscape and how power was ultimately drawn from the land. This study will target key sites identified through historical references and the archaeological record to examine how the changing social, economic and political situation is reflected in the palaeoenvironmental record.
Records of pollen, non-pollen palynomorphs, microscopic charcoal and peat geochemistry will be obtained from sediment cores collected from peat bogs and chronologies will be established using radiocarbon dating. This will enable the reconstruction of changes in vegetation and land use throughout the early medieval period and provide evidence for human activities such as woodland clearance, agriculture and metalworking. Such an approach is insightful and has been successfully applied in other contexts both independently of, and complementary to, archaeological investigations. The data generated by this project will provide a wider landscape context to answer questions arising from the archaeological record and will provide evidence for human-environment interactions in situations where more traditional forms of archaeological evidence are scarce.