New integrated molecular approaches for investigating lake settlements in north-western Europe

Antony Brown, Thierry Fonville, Maarten van Hardenbroek, Graeme Caver, Anne Crone, Finbar McCormick, Emily Murray, Helen Mackay, Nicki J. Whitehouse, Andrew C. G. Henderson, Phil Barratt, Kim Davies, Katie Head, Peter Langdon, Inger Alsos, Duncan Pirrie

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Lake settlements, particularly crannogs, pose several contradictions - visible yet inaccessible, widespread yet geographically restricted, persistent yet vulnerable. To further our understanding, we developed the integrated use of palaeolimnological (scanning XRF, pollen, spores, diatoms, chironomids, Cladocera, microcharcoal, biogenic silica, SEM-EDS, stable-isotopes) and biomolecular (faecal stanols, bile acids, sedaDNA) analyses of crannog cores in south-west Scotland and Ireland. Both can be effective methods sets for revealing occupation chronologies and identifying on-crannog activities and practices. Strong results from sedaDNA and lipid biomarker analyses demonstrate probable on-site animal slaughter, food storage and possible feasting, suggesting multi-period, elite site associations, and the storage and protection of valuable resources.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1179-1199
Number of pages21
Issue number389
Early online date28 Sept 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Sept 2022


  • British Isles
  • Ireland
  • lake settlements
  • molecular archaeology
  • sedaDNA
  • lipid biomarkers
  • crannogs


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