MICROTOPOGRAPHIC EVIDENCE OF HUMAN-LANDSCAPE INTERACTIONS IN KNOYDART PENINSULA, SCOTLAND, UK
Using historic land surveys, several agrarian use areas were visually identified along the coastal reaches of Knoydart. The microtopographic patterns on this landscape are quite striking. Land areas modified by subsistence communities consisted of sets of 2-3 m wide, 20-27 m long and 0.5 m high raised beds in three general areas on the landscape: 1) low relief coastal toeslope, 2) moderate relief footslope, and 3) high relief backslope. Most extensive sets (up to 5 x 104 m2) occurred in the low to moderate relief areas, where amendments such as cattle manure, seaweed, and shell sand could most easily be transported to the fields. Beds were oriented parallel to slope on the toe- and foot-slopes, but tended to be smaller (250-500 m2) and oriented orthogonal to slope in the high relief areas. Backslope sets also appeared to be less developed, suggesting limited use. The largest field areas occurred preferentially in areas of micaceous schist bedrock and in the limited areas of glacial deposits, where thicker soils would naturally form. Buried organically enriched horizons representing the original soil surfaces within the beds were found at 30 40 cm depth. Extensive soil samples across these anthropogenically-altered landscapes will be assessed for soil biogeochemical indicators in effort to clarify the history of this once active and well-preserved human landscape.