Going your own way? New investigations of Middle Iron Age stalled buildings (Wags) in Northern Scotland.

How did people in Caithness and Orkney live during the Iron Age? Martin Carruthers and Scott Timpany from UHI Archaeology Institute have been exploring “WAGs”, the stalled buildings found in association with broch sites. The seminar will discuss how these buildings were used by people living in the 2nd to 6th centuries.

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Orkney College Conference Room
UHI Orkney

8 Remote access


Webinar number: 2370 521 2800

Webinar password: 87yvJVEpVu3 (87985837 from phones)

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Access code: 237 052 12800

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Ragnhild Ljosland
email: Ragnhild.ljosland@uhi.ac.uk

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archaeology dig

Stalled buildings associated with Iron Age communities in Northern Scotland have been long known but little understood. Seemingly restricted in distribution to Caithness and Orkney these structures have been questioned as domestic settings. Originally referred to as WAGs (“little cave”) and largely found in association with broch sites, we argue they represent a unique type of structure that until now had been dated to between the 5th to 6th centuries AD.

This study presents the first detailed excavation of a stalled building from The Cairns, Orkney, where new dating evidence has demonstrated these were active considerably earlier than previously thought between the 2nd to 4th centuries AD. The construction of this building took place following the broch occupancy that had been the focus of the Early Iron Age settlement and is the first stalled building excavated to be directly associated with a small number of other known structures.

Archaeobotanical studies from within the structure have demonstrated that domestic activities did take place with 6-row hulled barley (Hordeum vulgare var vulgare) the main cereal cultivated. Arable weeds recovered provide evidence of how cultivated land was managed, while a depleted woodland resource is signalled by evidence of turf burning for fuel.  The excavation of this stalled building has provided the first chronological setting for these structures, enhanced our understanding of the communities they housed and demonstrated their potential to inform on the challenges posed by everyday life in the Middle Iron Age.

Speakers: Martin Carruthers and Scott Timpany

Please note that this seminar will not be recorded.


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