Dating Forteviot

A key challenge for the Project was to understand which places were occupied when and how use of the landscape shifted over time. This represented graphically in the timeline, which has been built up from excavated artefacts and radiocarbon dates. The radiocarbon age estimates provide the key to our dating scheme, because some sites produce few artefacts or they cannot be precisely dated. Radiocarbon dating relies on the analysis of organic material such as charred wood and plant remains or burnt (cremated) bone. Fortunately most sites produce suitable material and during the excavations special steps were taken to maximize the recovery of charcoal.

So far over 225 dating samples have been processed by the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre (SUERC) – the most extensive concentration of C14 dates so far gathered in Scotland. The results of this dating programme are graphically presented in each of the different sections of the exhibition. Radiocarbon analysis does not produce precise dates; rather each sample provides an age range (typically between 60 – 100 years). However when taken together, these radiocarbon ages reveal generation upon generation returning to the Forteviot area and leaving their mark.

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