Re-engaging with the Iron Age landscapes of the Outer Hebrides

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    This paper explores Iron Age landscapes and places in the Outer Hebrides. The Outer Hebrides are a group of islands where the Iron Age is defined chiefly by the distribution of monumental settlement architecture. The research behind this paper was motivated by the observation that experiential or sensory landscape archaeology had been largely neglected within British Iron Age archaeology and in the study of the Outer Hebridean Iron Age more specifically, despite being comparatively well developed in the context of Neolithic and Bronze Age research. Although there are a variety of perspectives on the Outer Hebridean Iron Age within current literature, they all rely upon the premise that this society was structured primarily around differences in monumental domestic architecture. This paper offers an alternative narrative for the Outer Hebridean Iron Age, structured specifically around an understanding of landscape and place. Four principal landscape settings are identified for Iron Age sites: lowland coastal, inland islet, upland, and coastal headland. These places are associated with a range of distinct experiences, and I argue that they provided locales in which dwelling would by necessity have functioned very differently. This paper concludes by examining some of the assumptions previously made about the landscape location of Iron Age sites and in doing so questions some of the dominant interpretations of the Outer Hebridean Iron Age.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)16-34
    Number of pages19
    JournalJournal of the North Atlantic
    Issue number901
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2015


    • Outer Hebrides
    • Iron Age Landscape


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