School of History, Classics & Archaeology

From Scotland to the wider world

The impact of the project globally.

To address sustainability meaningfully involves taking a local perspective, assessing data for small, locally-based communities, in impact-sensitive environments. Prehistoric Scotland presents an excellent case study. Its wet and windy climate challenges constructions of locally-sourced materials to reveal the builders’ experience and experiments. Marginal uplands and alluvial landscapes are sensitive to environmental changes, which can be tested for human or natural impacts. Of particular interest are periods of change: when sedentariness became the norm, when iron was used for tools, when regionally-operating societies were impacted by the first global systems and mass goods exchange of the Roman world and subsequently transformed into Early Medieval networks. Intriguing changes from round to rectangular house forms or from timber to stone are not necessarily environmentally determined, and require architectural analysis.

To evaluate rural vs global and environmental vs cultural impacts the project will compare case studies from Britain, Ireland, Scandinavia and the Continent. Workshops and a colloquium with archaeologists and architects have already provided feedback and inspiration for new analyses of the archaeological record and to frame potential input for modern planning and building. Palaeo-environmental analyses are similarly needed to improve our understanding of prehistoric natural resource management.

The project wishes to build: 

  • a deeper understanding of the relationship between ancient people and their built environment,
  • resilient communities for the future,
  • new concepts for dynamic architectures then and now,
  • greater understanding of sustainable materials as used in the past, and as usable in the future.


The project was recently featured in The European Archaeologist newsletter of the EAA (European Association of Archaeologists):