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Islands of history: the Late Neolithic timescape of Orkney

  • Alex Bayliss (a1) (a2), Peter Marshall (a1), Colin Richards (a3) and Alasdair Whittle (a4)

Orkney is internationally recognised for its exceptionally well-preserved Neolithic archaeology. The chronology of the Orcadian Neolithic is, however, relatively poorly defined. The authors analysed a large body of radiocarbon and luminescence dates, formally modelled in a Bayesian framework, to address the timescape of Orkney's Late Neolithic. The resultant chronology for the period suggests differences in the trajectory of social change between the ‘core’ (defined broadly as the World Heritage site) and the ‘periphery’ beyond. Activity in the core appears to have declined markedly from c. 2800 cal BC, which, the authors suggest, resulted from unsustainable local political tensions and social concerns.

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