Turner Valerie Erica, Location, form and function in Shetland’s prehistoric field systems, Thèse de doctorat soutenue en 2012, (dir. I. A. Simpson, S. Winterbottom, W. P. Adderley, Université de Stirling)
Shetland boasts exceptionally well-preserved, but largely overlooked, field systems spanning a period of approximately 4000 years (Neolithic/Bronze Age – Viking/Norse). These have the potential to vastly increase our understanding of past agricultural practices and life styles. This study uses topographical survey, Shape Analysis, GIS, soil survey and micromorphology to answer questions relating to their location, form and function/management, pioneering the use of new tools and testing current models. An holistic landscape approach to the field systems is developed and tested against a multi-period site. Previously unknown types and periods of field systems are identified through survey and shape analysis, tools demonstrated to be valuable in refining the emerging model of field classification. GIS has illuminated pre-, during and post- construction factors influencing boundary form. New insights into location arise from the survey and GIS. Soils work has demonstrated that existing models of soil management over-simplify a complex situation, that thin acidic soils retain cultural information and that accretion was important to the sustainability of these peaty soils. While soils were sustainable over extended periods, the cultural inheritance of managed land appears to be limited. This thesis therefore presents the most holistic and comprehensive understanding of Shetland field systems which has so far been attempted.