Case Studies:Case study 22
 Soil and Sediment Analysis from Viking to Medieval deposits in Norse Orkney
Geoarchaeological investigations, at the Viking to Medieval Period (800 to 1500AD) site of Quoygrew on the island of Westray in the Orkneys, assessed the extent to which fishing, farming and their intensification were interdependent at site level. Thin-section micromorphology supported by conventional bulk-soil analyses and associated radiocarbon dates were integrated to characterise the cultural deposits. The major stratigraphic unit has a sequence of cultural deposits that are variable in their microstratigraphy and with frequent occurrence of fishbone fragments. Features observed in thin section include fine calcareous ash crystals, rubified fine mineral material, phytoliths and diatoms, and peat ash. The sediments contain a higher percentage of sand and silt grains than other areas of Orcadian peat ash either due to differences in the source of peat or to a steady input of wind blown quartz sand throughout the deposits accumulation. It is concluded that a discrete area of the site developed as a fish midden from c. AD966-1162 until AD1223-1296, and marine exploitation developed as part of long-term trend towards increasing rural productivity.
Click on the link below to open a pdf with a more detailed summary of this project.
The full article is Simpson, I.A. J.H. Barrett and K.B. Milek (2005) Interpreting the Viking Age to Medieval Period Transition in Norse Orkney through Cultural Soil and Sediment Analysis Geoarchaeology 20 (4): 355-377
Keywords: Viking, Medieval, Quoygrew, Westray, Orkneys, fishing, farming, thin-section micromorphology, bulk-soil analyses, midden deposits