Pollen dating method
Particularly in summer, the air is filled with pollen dust.
Studies of modern analogues can help address this, and research into modern pollen-vegetation relationships in the Outer Hebrides (Brayshay 2000) and northwest Scotland (Bunting 2003) have proved useful in furnishing information on treeless landscapes (e.g. Software for simulating landscape scenarios from pollen data is being developed and refined (e.g.
Middleton and Bunting 2004; Bunting and Middleton 2005), and this approach could provide answers to questions often posed about the past vegetation mosaic and land use in the areas immediately surrounding prehistoric monuments and settlements.
Pollen analysis (palynology) is perhaps the most widely adopted, and arguably the most successful, of the biological techniques used in reconstructing past environments (Lowe and Walker 1997).
Amongst those institutions which are currently active, palynologists at the Universities of Aberdeen and Stirling have long-standing research interests within Scotland, whilst the focus at the University of Edinburgh is upon vegetation reconstruction in Neotropical environments. This makes them suitable for assessment using optimising techniques that involve the rapid scanning of pollen residues at low magnification (x100), ©J Schofield." border="0" height="241" src="/sites/default/files/u12/sci_fig008.jpg" title="" width="285" / In the foreseeable future, the main applications of pollen analysis will (and should) be to continue to provide the environmental context from which discussion of the archaeological record may begin.
A number of archaeological units (including Headland Archaeology and GUARD Archaeology) also offer to undertake pollen analysis on a commercial basis though preparation of samples is outsourced to other laboratories.
For example, Tipping (2009) have already applied a modelling exercise to reconstruct the possible spatial arrangement of plant communities around a Neolithic ‘timber hall’ in northeast Scotland.