By Ilya Gershevitch

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There were regional differences in its composition even over quite small areas, and different species predominated from one region to another. For example, by the end of the Scottish Mesolithic only the southern half of the country was actually dominated by oak. Parts of the North Sea littoral and much of the west coast had a significant component of hazel, and this pattern extended as far as the Inner Hebrides. The Outer Hebrides, Caithness, and the Northern Isles were dominated by birch, whilst pine flourished in the mountainous interior (Tipping 1994a).

Major changes happened halfway through the Bronze Age, and this is acknowledged by treating the later part of this period in a chapter on its own. The same applies to the earlier Iron Age. There has been a tendency to write at length about periods where the available material is plentiful and varied and to devote less space to phases when the archaeological record is more homogeneous. That does not do justice to the realities of prehistoric life where a human generation would have remained the same from the Mesolithic to the Iron Age.

It also seems to be the only model which explains developments in Britain and Ireland as well as those in Scandinavia. Although it is expressed in very general terms, it provides a useful working hypothesis. Colonisation by sea is currently an unfashionable option, and it certainly does not account for every aspect of the insular Neolithic. There are also a number of features that could be more closely linked to a Mesolithic way of life. The most important may also be the most intangible. Neolithic material culture was adopted remarkably quickly over large parts of Britain and Ireland.

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Ancient Survivals in Ossetic by Ilya Gershevitch


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