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Exploring Site Formation and Building Local Contexts through Wiggle-Match Radiocarbon Dating: Re-Dating of the Firth of Clyde Crannogs, Scotland

  • Piotr Jacobsson (a1), Alex G.C. Hale (a2), Gordon Cook (a1) and Derek Hamilton (a1)
Abstract

There are at least four wooden intertidal platforms, also known as marine crannogs, in the Firth of Clyde, on the west coast of Scotland. The interpretation of these sites partly depends on their dating and, if coeval, they could point to the presence of a native maritime hub. Furthermore, the spatial coincidence with the terminus of the Antonine Wall has led to speculation about the role they may have played in Roman-native interaction during the occupation of southern Scotland in the early first millennium cal ad. Hence, a better absolute chronology is essential to evaluate whether the marine crannogs were contemporary with one another and whether they related to any known historic events. This article presents results of a wiggle-match dating project aimed at resolving these uncertainties at two of the sites in question, Dumbuck and Erskine Bridge crannogs. The results show that the construction of these sites pre-date direct Roman influence in Scotland. Furthermore, the results indicate that the two sites were built at least 300 years apart, forcing us to consider the possibility that they may have functioned in very different historical contexts. Other findings include technical observations on the fine shape of the radiocarbon calibration curve near the turn of the first millennia bc/ad and potential evidence for persistent contamination in decayed and exposed sections of waterlogged alder.

Il existe au moins quatre plateformes de bois, connues sous le nom de crannogs, dans la zone de marnage du Firth of Clyde sur la côte sud-ouest de l'Ecosse. Leur interprétation dépend en partie de leur chronologie et, si elles sont contemporaines, elles pourraient résulter de la formation d'un réseau marin autochtone. De plus, leur situation qui coïncide avec le terminus du Mur d'Antonin, a mené à des conjectures sur le rôle qu'elles auraient pu jouer dans les interactions entre Romains et indigènes pendant l'occupation de l'Ecosse du sud au début du premier millénaire apr. J.-C. Ainsi une meilleure chronologie absolue est essentielle pour vérifier si les crannogs marins étaient contemporains et si on peut les relier à des événements historiques. Notre article présente les résultats d'un projet de mise en concordance des oscillations des courbes de calibration (« wiggle-natching ») qui a pour but de résoudre les incertitudes chronologiques sur deux crannogs, ceux de Dumbuck et d'Erskine Bridge. Les résultats démontrent clairement que la construction de ces sites est antérieure à l'influence romaine an Ecosse. De plus, ces résultats indiquent que les deux sites avaient été construits à un intervalle de 300 ans, ce qui nous oblige à considérer la possibilité qu'ils avaient été établis dans des contextes historiques fort différents. D'autres observations techniques concernent certains détails de la courbe de calibration autour du changement d’ère (av./apr. J.-C.) et la possibilité qu'il y ait eu une contamination persistante des parties exposées et pourries du bois d'aulne gorgé d'eau. Translation by Madeleine Hummler

Es gibt mindestens vier Holzplattformen (sogenannte maritime Crannógs) in der Gezeitenzone des Firth of Clyde an der südwestlichen Küste Schottlands. Die Deutung dieser Fundstätten hängt teils von ihrer Datierung ab; falls sie gleichzeitig errichtet worden waren, könnten sie auf einen maritimen Knotenpunkt hinweisen. Darüber hinaus hat das räumliche Zusammentreffen mit dem Endpunkt des Antoninuswalls zu Spekulationen über die Rolle der maritimen Crannógs in den Wechselbeziehungen zwischen Römer und Einheimischen während der römischen Besetzung von Südschottland im frühen ersten Jahrhundert n.Chr. geführt. Deswegen ist es notwendig, eine absolute Chronologie aufzustellen, sodass man beurteilen kann, ob die maritimen crannógs zeitgenössisch waren und ob sie mit bekannten historischen Ereignissen verknüpft waren. In diesem Artikel werden die Resultate eines „Wiggle-Matching“ Projektes vorgeführt, dessen Ziel darin besteht, diese Unklarheiten zu lösen. Dies wurde für zwei der betreffenden Fundstätten unternommen: Dumbuck und Erskine Bridge. Die Ergebnisse zeigen eindeutig, dass diese Fundorte vor dem Zeitpunkt des direkten römischen Einflusses in Schottland errichtet wurden. Die Resultate zeigen auch, dass die beiden Fundplätze in einem Abstand von wenigstens 300 Jahren gebaut wurden, was uns dazu zwingt in Betracht zu ziehen, dass diese Fundstätten möglicherweise in ganz verschiedenen historischen Zusammenhängen funktionierten. Weitere Erkenntnisse umfassen technische Betrachtungen der Form der Radiokarbon Kalibrationskurve um die Zeitenwende v. Chr./n Chr. und mögliche Nachweise auf eine anhaltende Kontamination von verrotteten und freiliegenden Abschnitten von Erlenholz, das wassergesättigt ist. Translation by Madeleine Hummler

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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