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The World on a Plate: Ceramics, Food Technology and Cosmology in Neolithic

Orkney

Andrew Jones

World Archaeology, Vol. 31, No. 1, Food Technology in Its Social Context: Production,
Processing and Storage. (Jun., 1999), pp. 55-77.

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The world on a plate: ceramics,
food technology and cosmology in
Neolithic Orkney

Andrew Jones

Abstract

There is a tendency for diverse aspects of the Neolithic of Britain and Europe such as agriculture,
monuments and material culture to be employed as distinct explanatory mechanisms to describe
the important changes which occur during this period. It is argued that if we are to gain a clearer
understanding of the important changes which characterize the Neolithic we need to study agricul-
ture, monuments and material culture in combination. Using a case study drawn from the earlier
and later Neolithic of Orkney, Scotland, the paper offers an approach which combines an analysis
of ceramic use with food consumption and storage. The changing relationship between consump-
tion and storage is seen to be critical to understanding the changes in monumentality and the treat-
ment of the dead.

Keywords

Ancestors; ceramics; food; monuments; neolithic; storage.

Introduction

The Neolithic is traditionally considered to be characterized by three significant events:


the shift to an economy based on agriculture; the adoption of novel forms of material
culture, particularly pottery; and the corrstruction of large field monuments, such as cham-
bered tombs. Thomas (1993) has demonstrated that, at different points in lime, each of
these events has been studied to the exclusion of the others. This has had a variable impact
on our understanding of the period. l i p until recently the prevailing approach to the
period placed greatest emphasis on the Neolithic as an economic phenomenon. Accord-
ing to this view the shift to agriculture was of primary importance in heralding social
change (Higgs and Jarman 1975; Barker 1985). Indeed economic stability was perceived
to provide the necessary backdrop for the process of monument construction (Case 1969).
However, recent authors have provided a cogent critique of such an approach; instead

World Archaeology Vol. 31(1): 55-77 Food Technology in its Social Context
O Routledge 1999 0043-8243
56 Andrew Jones

they place an emphasis on the ideational nature of the social changes involved in the
period. Rather than viewing the economy as a driving force for social change the process
of becoming Neolithic is considered to involve the adoption of a particular set of belief
systems (FIodder 1990; Thomas 1988,1991; Whittle 1996). Being Neolithic, then, involves
much more than simply utilizing domesticates, building monuments or adopting new
forms of material culture. While the concept of the Neolithic as a belief system has much
to recommend it there is a danger of viewing the process in the abstract. Rather ihan
simply treating the process of becoming Neolithic as a set of symbolic structures (Hodder
1990), a refinement of this notion places emphasis on the construction and use of monu
ments as a significant event. According to this view it was the use of monumental archi
lecture which provided the conditions which made agriculture possible; since the
construction and use of monuments signified an important change in the way in which
time and place were experienced (Bradley 1993,19981,
B find the concept that monuments shaped the way people thought and acted an attract-
ive one. However, while monuments do have an important impact on the way in which
time and place is experienced, we need to reconceptualize the way in which this proccss
relates to the wider experience of the natural world during the Neolithic. While monu-
ments inscribe the landscape with a new sense of time and place, part of this process of
inscription must draw on the culturally categorized landscape. Animals and plants are
important elements of the cultural landscape, since, by inhabiting the landscape, they
imbue the landscape with meaning; they do not simply exist as entities in the landscape,
they are constitutive of the landscape (Jones 1998). In order Lo more clearly understand
the process by which the construction of Neolithic monuments relates to issues of time
and place we need to understand the temporal and spatial nature of plants and animals
as essential components of the cultmally categorized landscape. Just as anlmals and plants
may embody elements of the classified landscape, through procurement, production anri
use materlal culture may be similarly categorized. In short we must examine the temporal
and spatial nature of each element of the Neolithic and closely examine the way in which
each element relates to the other.
One of the important implications of approaching monuments, material culture and
agriculture as different elements of a culturally meaningful world is that we no longer
need to view each element as a necessary predicate of the other (Bradley 1998: 51-67).
The link between the various strands of the Neolithic therefore becomes more problem-
atic and at the same time more interesting. In order to exarnine the changing nature d
these various strands of the Neolithic I want to examine the link between the techno-
logical practices involved in the consumption and storage of food and the way in which
these activities relate to the practices associated with the dead in the mortuary monuments
of the Orcadian Neolithic. My primary aim in this regard is to consider the role of both
food and ceramics and their wider use in the classification and renegotiation of concepts
of time and place. Ceramics themselves may be categorized by attributes which depend
on their relation to place and time (Pluciennik 1997). However, niore powerfully, since
the use of ceramics is bound up with the production, consumption and storage of plant
and animal foodstuffs. by considering the relationship between ceramics and foods we are
able to more clearly define the relationship between disparate elements sf the culturally
classified world.
T h e world o n a plate: ceramics, food technology and cosmology in Neolitlzic Orkney 57

Ceramics, technology and classificatio~l

The appearance of ceramics during the Neolithic has traditionally been considered to be
an event of some significance due to the supposed relationship between ceramics and
sedentism. However, rather than simply considering ceramics as signifiers of the emer-
gent Neolithic it is important that we consider pots as functioning objects, or tools (Braun
1983). We need to view pots as components of a wider set of technologies associated with
food. Such an approach need not involve viewing pottery in a wholly functional manner.
Rather we should consider the role of' ceramics in articulating new strategies of food
production, consumption and storage (Jones 1996) and in orchestrating the complex
grammar which smrounds the preparation and consumption of foodstuffs (Douglas 1975;
Deetz 1977; Johnson 1993). We need to combine our analyses of pots as functioning
objects with an understanding of how they are situated within social practices. Pottery is
neither simply a tool, nor is it a static component of a symbolic system; rather its meaning
as a symbol is bound up with its involvement in the social practices involved in food
storage, production and consumption. [n order to draw out this argument we need to
consider the manner in which ceramic ~issemblagesare categorized (Boast 3 990; Barrett
1991; Cleal 1992), and the way in which certain aspects of categories, such as volume
(Woodward 1996; Woodward and Blinkhorn 1997) or decoration (Boast 1996; Thomas
1991: 84-7) articulate social identities. One of the most powerful ways in which we may
examine the way in which the natural and social worlds are classified is by considering the
role of ceramics in food production, consumption and storage (see Thomas 1991: 79-84;
Whittle 1996: 282-4).
While the use of ceramics indicates a clear relationship between the natural and social
world, this relationship is difficult 1.0 demonstrate archaeologically. If we are to place
ceramics at the centre of our investigation of Neolithic social practices, how are we to
relate them to other aspects of Neolithic life, such as agriculture and monuments? One
way in which the relationship between i'oodstuffs and ceramics may be contextualized is
through the application of organic residue analysis using gas chromatography (see Ever-
shed et al. 1990; Skibo 1993). Such a technique allows foods to be defined with relation to
specific categories of pottery, and enablcs us to view the active use of food within cerain-
ics against the relatively static picture of food use often presented by faunal and botani-
cal analysis. If we are to gain a more complete view of the relationship between concepts
derived through the experience of monumental architecture and the social practices
bound up with agriculture and material culture it is essential that we contextualize both
food remains and ceramics in both houses and tombs.

Ceramics and social change in Neolithic Orkney

The Orkney Isles are situated off the northernmost coast of Scotland. One of the most
remarkable aspects of the archaeological remains found on these islands is the excep-
tionally well-preserved range of Neolithic monuments, including chambered tombs,
passage graves and stone-built settlements. A major topic of debate in the study of the
Orcadian Neolithic concerns the striking change which occurs from the earlier to later
58 Andrew .?ones

Neolithic (Renfrcw 1979: Clarke 1983; Sharplcs 1985: Richards 1998). This change is mosi
marltcd in the archilcctu.re of charnlpered tombs arrct scttlenients anct in pottery tech
nology.
The chambered torilbs of the earlicr Neolithic (mid-fourth millennium uc') are linea i,
constructions whose internal space is divided up try orthostats into between three a ~ l d
fourteen compartments (Richards 1992). This mode of construction is paralleled by ihe
construction of earlier Neolithic houses (Fig. 1). as at the Mnap of Howar,,Papa Wesi.ray
(Ritchic 1983) and Stonehall, Mainland (Richards forthcoming).
By the later Neolilhic (late fourthlearlj7 third milleilnium 13c)we observe a very differ-
ent form of spatial representation. Rather than principles of linearity being emphasized,
we see the emphasis placed on circular space. Passage graves are constructed with a large
central chamber with a series of side cells exiting this space, the ~vholcbeing entered by
an extended passage (Richards 1988). At settlement sites such as Skara Brae (Childc
1931), Rinj7o (Childe and Grant 1938) and Barnhouse (Richards 1990) we see a similar.
emphasis on circularity (Fig. 2). Late Neolithic houses arc circular with a central heart, a
rear Uresser' and right and left hand box-beds, as well as a series of peripheral wall
alcoves. As Richards (1996: 193) notes, this circular architecture places an emphasis or:
principles of concentricity and centrality, while the cruciform layout of the houses over-
lays this with a more cornplex systeril of spatial categorization emphasizing direcliol~alify
and temporality.
This striking change in architecture is also heralded by a change in pottery technologgi.
The fundamental differences between earlier and later Neolithic ceramic forms arc
morphological and decorative, The earlier Neolithic assemblages comprise two rountl
based bowl forms, upright plain bowls and shallow decorated bowls known as Urlseala
ware (Fig. 3). The ceramic assemblages of the later Neolithic are eneirely different to
those of the earlier period, being composed ol' bucket-shaped; flat-based Grooved ware
(Fig. 4).
The terms 'earlier' and 'later9Neolithic are ennyiloycd here to denote a degree of i'u~zi-
ness in the chronology. lit is highly likely that different communities utilized earlier
ceramic forms well into the later Neolithic and wa: should expect a degree oi' flexibility in
the way in which communities on dir'i'erent islands will have appropriated novel ceramic
technologies. This flexibility is rnost apparent at chambered tomb sites such as Tsbister car]
South Ronaldsay; this cairn contains large numbers of Unstan ware vessels ye1 it has
radiocarbon dates which situate it firmly in the later Neolithic. Moreover, this monument
encapsulates the architecture or' earlier stallcd cairns and laler passage graves (E<iclnaxds
1998:530). Therefore, we should not necessarily always equate specific ceramic forms with
precise chronological phases; instead the terrns karlier' and 'latea' Neolithic should be
taken to indicate a broad chronological distinction.
Decoration on earlier Neolithic pottery assemblages is sparse. Plain bowls are occasion-
ally incized around the rim or are furnished with lugs or cordons, the decoration of Unslilr~
ware is limited to cross-hatched or finger nail patterns in the upper collar area, Notably
the cross-hatched effects on many Unstan bowls are comparable to the cross..katchenl
construction of the outer walls of a number of chambered lombs (Callander and Grant
1937; Davidson and Henshall 1989: 31). The decorative motifs which cover the surface of
Grooved ware vessels are also incized. but are quite different to those on carlier poitery
The world o n a plate: ceramics, food technology and cosmology in Neolzthic Orkney 59

Figure 1 (above, left) Earlier Neolithic architecture. Top: Earlier Neolithic houses at Knap of Howar
(after Ritchie 1983). Bottom: Earlier Neolitl-iicstalled cairn at Knowe of Yarso (after Davidson and
Henshall 1989).
Figure 2 (crbove, right) Later Neolithic architecture. Top: Later Neolithic house, house 7 at Skara
Brae (after Richards 1991). Bottom: Later Neolithic passage grave at Quanterness (after Henshall
1990).

forms. These motifs are executed in corrxplex curvilinear or linear designs. Like the motifs
on Unstan ware, the curvilinear molifs are closely comparable to motifs fourid in passage
grave art (Shee Twohig 1981). However. the linear motils are also comparable with motifs
found in later Neolithic settlements (Richards 1991).
It is notable then that the changes in architecture are broadly coincident wi1.h the change
in ceramic technology. However, while this relationship exists, Richards (1 998) has recently
pointed out there has been a tendency to treat mortuary architecture and settlement archi-
tecture as distinct phenomena. I would go further in saying that, due to this, there has also
been a tendency to discuss material culture in isolation from discussions of architectural
60 Andrew Jones

Figure 3 (above) Examples of earlier Neo-


lithic pottery. a: Unstan bowl from cham-
bered tomb of Unstan (after Davidsoa
and Henshall 1989). b: plain bowl from
Knap of Howar settlement (after Henshall
1983b).
Figure 4 (right) Examples of later "Neolithic
Grooved ware from settlement at Barn-
house. Top: large vessel with simple decora-
tion. Middle: medium sized vessel with
curvilinear decoration. Bottom: sherds from
small vessels showing passage grave art
moiifs.

change. In short, pottery and other forms of artefact play little role in accounts 01social
change for the Orcadian Neolithic (for examples see Renfrew 1979; Sharples 1985).
A further problem with previous approaches is that changes in architecture and changes
in material culture are o1ten treated as static signifiers 01 change (see Clarke 1983;
MacSween 1992). However if we are to recollceptualize the llalure of social change during
the Neolithic of Orkney we need to consider the change in both architecture and materia!
culture as the result 01specific social practices.
The world o n a plate: ceramics, food technology and cosmology in Neolitl2ic Orkney 61

The attributes of change: contrasting the pottery technologies of the earlier and later
Neolithic

The changing nature of ceramic technology in Neolithic Brkney is best considered in


relation to the attributes and contexts of each ceramic form. In each case attributes
such as morphology, volume, use-wear and the data derived from organic residue analysis
will provide us with a more detailed understanding of how each ceramic form is employed.
The two earlier Neolithic ceramics, forms may be considered to be broadly contempor-
ary since they are found in stratigraphic relationship in domestic midden material (Hunter
and MacSween 1991; MacSween 1990; Ritchie 1983). Given their contemporary nature
we may consider them to be functionally different components of the same ceramic
tradition. As well as their obvious morphological differences (see Fig. 3) there are a
number of other differences in volume, use and context which are worth taking into
consideration (see Table 1). First, the plain bowl forms are approximately hall: the volume
of Unstan bowls (Jones forthcoming). There are also differences in the pattern of use-
wear on these vessels. Plain bowls have soot deposits around tlne base and lower body,
while the soot deposits on Unstan bowls are restricted around the rim area (Henshall
1983a, 1983b; Davidson and Henshall 1989; Jones forthcoming). This suggests a difference
of function (Hally 1983);plain bowls may have been suspended over the fire, while Unstan
forms are likely to be placed within the fire. This suggestion is supported by the obser-
vation that many plain bowls are furnished with lugs to aid suspension, while Unstan
bowls have abraded bases suggesting direct use in the fire (Henshall 1983a). Given these
observations I believe that plain bowls are best considered as cooking and serving vessels,
while the shallow Unstan bowls are most likely to function as specialized serving vessels.
The differences between the two pottery forms are most apparent contextually (see Table
1). Unstan bowls are deposited in greatest numbers within chambered tombs, indeed

Table I Comparison of earlier and later Neolithic pottery from Orltney.


Earlier Neolithic Later Neolithic

Zir?stai?ware Plain bowls (Grooved ware


Shape Open Neutral Bucltet-shaped

Decoration Cross-hatched incisions Absent Large: Simple incision


M e d i ~ ~ nCurvilinear
z:
incisions.
Small: Passage grave art
motifs

Context Chambered tombs Settlements Small, Large: Settlements


Medium: Settlements,
Passage graves, Henge

Volume 3,000-16,000 cc 500-9.000~~ Small: 2,000-3,000~~


M e d i ~ ~ n3,000-8,000~~
z:
Large: 10,000-33,000~~
Unstaa ware was traditionally considered lo be an exclusively mortuary ceran~ir:untii rllc
excavation of Wnstan bowls at the se!tl~;ineal siies oi' Knap of Howar and Pooi. Iiowei~er
the Unstar~ware found on settlement sites consist oC small h e vessels (Heilshall 1983b)
and only comprises a lc~wpercentage of the rural portery a.sscxishlage (TdacSween 1"PO).
The depositional contexts in which Unstan ware is Ioilnd contrast sharp!y with those (if tili:
plain bowl forms. since they are the rnajor components of scttleinent assemblages, and are
uncommon within chambered torn1-r asscmblages. Functionally and contextually the two
earlier Neolithic pottery forms are bound up in two quite diflerent sets of social practices,
on the one hand associated wit11 the production and coi~suirrpiivno l Cood ira a 6eornt:stic
context, on the other hand associai.ed with the consumption of food in a mortuary contexi.
As indicated above Late Neolitllic Grooved ware conq~risee;a very clilferent trariitiori
to the earlier Neolithic potter?; (see Fig. 4). Fom- the purposcs 01this paper li want i,o Cocuo
in some detail on the dilfercnccs between pottery traditions in ihe earlier and iaici
Neolithic (see Table 1). Unlike the pottery or the earlier Jalenlithik-, Grooved ware
categories are identical morphologically. 'The main attiibuie which distinguishes cxch
category is voluine, with vessels of sn~all.xnediurn and large sizes. Notably, the small and
medium sixes overlap with the volume capacities of earlier ceramics., however 'ihe largesi
Grooved ware vessels are double the capacit?; o l the largest IJnstair bowl.
Just as the earlier Neolithic cerarr7ic:s are disiingui.shed by [he prcsence or ahscnce oi'
decoration, so differei-rt categories oi; the Groo~reciware vesscl arc defined by decoratiorl,
A detailed examination of the Grooved ware assemblage frirns 1-iarnhouse, iP/8ainlarrri
(Jones 1997) indicates that e~esselsize coraelates with decoratioir -- lhc smalli-:stvcssc?a are
highly decorated wiih passage grave rnotii's, ~"r~cdirlrn wesscls with cr,trvilineaa motifs and
large vessels with simple ir~cisionsor cordons. Further. exarnir~atiovlof the correlation of
these vessel categories with signs of usc--wear indicates that sooting predominaics cja
medium size vessels.
The contexts in which Grooved ware is deposited are diverr;~,1be largest ausembla.gc,,
.7

of Grooved ware are Coui~dwithin scttlcmi:nls, such as Barnhouse (Richards i990), Sknra
Brae (Childe 1931) and Rinyo (Chilcie and Grani 1938). Srr~allerasseniblages are Coucrd
within passage gravcs, such as Quanicr~~ess. Mainland (Kei~fren!19-79)>while Grtra;.:eid
ware is also associated with the ditch and hearth deposits at thc Stones of Slcnness hengc,
Mainland (Ritchie 1976).
ail reiterate. we observe a number of diLferences .in pottery i.cchnology from the earlici.
and later Pqeolithic in Orkney. These can be r:haractarizetl as a change in morphology,
Grom round based to Rat based and a t\vofold increase in the voluxnetrir: capacity oC the
later Grooved ware vessels. During tile earlier Neo1i'i.hicthe ciepoitional contexts oi' [slam
bowls and Unsta:n bowls were broadly discrete, with the largest concentral.ions of pottery
being deposited within chambered ~.ot.,rbs.During the ialer Neoiilhic most Grooved ware
vessels were deposited in dorncstic contc:xts; wiila very CGVJ vesseis entering coratexts
outwith tire settlernenj.

Consnanption and storage: the changing roie of pottery in Neolithic Qrkney

How are we io rcconceptualize rllesi: charrges? I believe ihai one way of considering irie
change in pottery teclinology is through a mori: detailed analysis of ehc fuxictional naii.ire
The 14.~0~111o n n plate: cernrnics food tpc hnology and cosnzology in N~olzthicQrkney 63

of pottery. To this end organic residue analysis using high temperature gas chromatogra-
phy was conducted on assemblages of plain bowls and Grooved ware by the author (see
Jones 1997 for detailed methodology). The technique was specifically designed to examine
the presence or absence of specific lipids; or fatty acids (see Evershed et al. 1990,1992).
Comparison of the results lrom the two assemblages indicate a number of interesting
differences. Six samples from plain bowls were examined from the settlement site of
Stonehall. These samples indicated the presence of cattle milk and cattle meat by the
differential presence and ratios of 2-methylhexadecanoic acid and nanodecanoic acid
respectively (see Jones forthcoming). Cattle meat was only found in one sample and most
of the vessels cont.ained cattle milk.
If we consider the results o l organic residue analysis from the extensive Grooved ware
assemblage from Barnhouse (Jones 199'7), we observe both similarities and differences.
Here forty-five samples were examined from small, medium and large vessels. As with the
Stonehall samples these indicated the presence of cattle milk and cattle meat, however
the presence of barley was also indicated by a variety of unsaturated fatty acicls (see Jones
199'7). At Barnhouse, cattle milk and meat were confined to medium size vessels, and the
use of cattle meat was restricted to a particular house. Interestingly the fatty acids repre-
senting barley were found in the largest and smallest vessels, but were absent from
medium size vessels. In the case of the small vessels fatty acids representing barley were
ubiquitous suggesting a singular function for these vessels.
We can therefore define a change in the use of pottery during the Neolithic. In the
earlier period we observe that the consumption of cattle products was of importance.
While this continued to be of importance during the later Neolithic we also observe the
use of barley. Barley was consumed in the small vessels at Barnhouse, however more
importantly barley was also stored in the largest vessels. It is important to note that barley
may have been consumed within Unstan bowls during the earlier Neolithic, since two
Unstan bowls from Calf of Eday Long and from Unstan chambered tombs; had barley
impressions on their outer surface (Jessen and lt-ielbaek 1944; noted in Davidson and
Henshall 1989: 84). I contend that these barley impressions are unlikely to be accidental.
Grain impressions are more likely to represent the deliberate production of Unstan bowls
around the time of harvest when barley is more abundant, suggesting that these impres-
sions may symbolically represent a link between Unstan bowls and barley consumption
(see Tilley 1996: 188). It is critical to note that despite the possibility of the consumption
of barley within ceramic vessels during the earlier Neolithic there is little evidence to
suggest its storage in pottery containeis, while during the later Neolithic we observe
evidence for both consumption and storage within ceramics. Due to their large size and
upright profile Grooved ware vessels would have been more suitable storage containers
for barley than earlier pottery forms.
It is interesting that the evidence from faunal and botanical analyses provides us with
a picture of overall stasis in animal and plant husbandry practices throughoilt the Orca-
dian Neolithic with sheep, cattle, pig and dog predominating in domestic middens (Noddle
1983, forthcoming). Botanically we observe the presence of barley from earlier and later
Neolithic sites, with evidence for hazelnuts and crab apples during the later Neolithic
(Bond 1994; Dickson pers. comm.). In contrast, the evidence of the organic residue analy-
sis and the change in pottery technology suggest considerable change in the social prac-
tices surrounding food. In both periods pottery appears to be used for the preparation
and consumption of cattle products. Although there is Xiitlc spacc here lo discuss thc
cultural significance oC cattle, 1have argued elsewhere that cattle occupy a culturally and
symbolically important positioin throughout the Orcadian Neolithic (Jones 1998). While
sheep predominate in the midden deposits: the selection of cattle p~.oductsfor consarmp.
tion within pottery containers must be vicwed as a culturally significant activity. V!iriii:
cattle products retain their significance throughc~utthe Neolithic, of more importance icr
the issues considered in this paper is the storage tsf barley within potter); during the later
Neolithic.
i t is important to note that in each case pottery and foods arc related to iss~lesoT tirrre,
While cattle nlilli is n o t a seasonal protlucl; the high n u r n b e o l neonates and juvi:niles
present in midden contexts are likely to represent large-scalc consunnptitsn of cattle meal
around autumn to midwinter (Richards 1903). Barley is also a seasonal resource. Duii-ng
the earlier Neolithic we see no evidence lor the storage of barley within ceramic contain-
ers, This is not to say that barley was not stored. at least For seed grain, rather that tlrerc
is no evidence of a relationship l;etwi:en storage and pottt:ry during the earlier Neolithic:,
O n the other hand, the consumption 01 barley, within tinstan bowls, is likely 1.0!?a,vs
occurred around harvest and is associated with activities a,ccurring within chamb<:red
tombs. However, in the later Neolithic, whiie barley remained a seasonal resource, it was
also stored within large Grooved ware ~cssels.It would seem that from the earlier to later
Neolithic we observe different strategies of food preparaiion. consumption and storage
associated with pottery; with barley acquiring rnore importance as a stored agricr~itural
product.

Eating with the livirag: social practices and food ~ C C ~ D O ~ O ~ V

B now want to exarnine in more detail the natule of the ~elatisnshipbetween the spataai
lepresentation of monuments and the social pracl1ce.i surxoundang thc productnon
consunnption and storage of lood. Our best evidencc For such practices in ciornestic
contexts during the earlier Neolithic comes from the Knap of I-Iowar, Papa Piest3.ay
(Ritchie 1983). Here we Ilnd two stone built houses joined by a single passagewaqj. Archi-.
tecturally the structures are siiliilar and are best c:onsiilered as a single settlernent unit (see
Fig, I).
At Knap o l Howar, the larger and probably earlier house, house I, consists of two
compartments whose internal space is divided by orthostats. The internal compartmeili
contalns a 5cooped hearth illled with nsh House i has a arrnilar 3patial arrangeirxmt
however here there are thlee cornpartmentr diarided by oi thostats TFhe central con?part
ment contains a slab-dehned hearth What 1wish to exarninc hera la the exldence of fciod
technologg Evldence for a complex ~echnologySol the proccssmg of plants such 3~
cereal5, seeds and nuts comes lrsm the large trough cluern placed to the lelt of the hear~i.,
in the inner compartment o l house 6 and the snnall grrnding 'toneu found close bo the
hearth in both houses It would seem then that tlae pril.rini y and 5econdarv ploce\srag oi
plant foods was \patially dcfinecl around the hearth. S i r ~ ~ i l a the ~ l v location of arordgc
racilities is discretely defined Stone boxes. iiliely lo be used fof storage, are built ixllci ~lar
walls of the back chamber of 130th houses The r,~7a&leirce!or corrsurnption praciiccs 1s
The world on a plate: ceranzics, food technology and cosmology in Neolithic Orkney 65

partial, although we do observe a series ol' shallow pits close to the hearth in both struc-
tures, likely to be used to contain pottery vessels during food preparation and consump-
tion (Ritchie 1983: 51). In house 1, one of these pits contained a small vessel which was
covered by a broken rim sherd. We are fortunate that at Stonehall, Mainland (Richards
forthcoming) we have clearer evidence for food consumption associated with the hearth,
since a rim sherd from a small fine vessel was found within the hearth of one of the struc-
tures. This vessel was found to contain the fatty acids signature representing cattle meat.
For these earlier Neolithic sites the social practices conducted in various locations
around the house are clearly spatially defined. The transformation of plant foods through
large- and small-scale grinding occurs in the inner and central compartment, as does .the
cooking and consumption of food. However, the storage of foods appears to be confined
to the inner area of the house.
As we turn to examine the social practices surrounding food production, consumption
and storage within later Neolithic houses we observe a more closely defined use of space
(see Fig. 2). The position of the hearth within later Neolithic houses provides a focal point
at the centre of the house; because of this lay-out the box-beds, dresser and wall alcoves
are situated in peripheral location:; in relation to the hearth. Analysis of the spatial
location of Grooved ware within later Neolithic houses reveals a number of interesting
patterns. At Barnhouse the small and medium vessels were focused in two main areas, in
and around the hearth, or within the right hand box-bed. Residue analysis of these vessels
indicates the preparation and consumption of cattle milk, cattle meat and barley. On the
other hand. large vessels were situated in more peripheral locations. A large vessel
containing fatty acids representing barley had collapsed in situ beneath the dresser in
house 3, while another was placed in a pit in an alcove in house 2.1 have argued elsewhere
that these deposits are likely to conforrn to the spatial patterns of pottery use during the
occupation of the house (Jones 1997) since later Neolithic houses are likely to have been
abandoned on the death of their occupants (see Richards 1990).
The evidence for the spatial locations of large vessels is more striking at Rinyo and
Skara Brae. At Rinyo a massive vessel. had collapsed in sit^^ in an alcove in house D
(Childe and Grant 1938: 24). At Skara Brae, house 8, two large pots were found in the
porch, while pot fragments and animal bones were found in a cell in the west wall. Within
house 7, two large pots were found in a recess, another large pot was sheltered in a cell,
and a further large pot had been resting on the floor against the back wall. These were
not the only locations in which pots were found; in the right hand box-bed a 'decorated
pot' was found, while a very large pot with a decorated rim stood to the south of the hearth
(Childe and Paterson 1928: 255). Importantly, measurement of the dimensions of some of
these large vessels suggests that they would have been too large to be removed from either
the low alcoves or the low doorways of later Neolithic houses. Physically and r;ymbolically
these vessels were closely associated with the fabric of the house. This is even more appar-
ent when we observe that one of the vessels found to have contained fatty acids repre-
senting barley which was situated in the left hand box-bed in structure 8, Barnhouse, was
actually embedded within the floor up to its rim.
Spatially, then, we see Grooved ware vessels of different function being placed in distinct
locations within later Neolithic houses. What is more, these spatial patterns were further
defined by other activities. At Skara Brae, the periphery of houses 1 and 2 was dominated
66 Andrew ,Jonps

by large trough querns or mortars, and another quern in house 5 was situated in a side cell
(Childe 1931: 29-31,36-7). At Rinyo the lelt hand side of the hearth o l houses A and C is
dominated by the remains of low clay ovens (Childe and Grant 1938). The importance of
the hearth as a place for the processing o l cereals is also apparent lrorn the concentration
of barley chaff around the eastern hearth in house 2, Barrrhouse (FBinton 1995: 3).
The evidence from later Neolithic houses allows us to build up a complex picture of the
spatial location of the social practices associated with lood. 'The peripheral alcoves,
dressers and box-beds were the location lor the storage of Coocls, especially barley, within
large Grooved ware vessels. Querns and mortars located around the periphery o l the
house were then used for the primary transformative process of grinding plant foods. The
central hearth was the location of secondary transformationowith the cooking of foods irs
ovens and within medium size Grooved ware vessels. Finally, the hearth was also l h c
location for consumption activities associated with medium and small size Grooveti ware
vessels, associated with the consumption of cattle milk. cattle meat and barley. Nok only
are the spatial locations associated with the practices o l storage and consur~iptiondefined
architecturally, but these locations are associatecl with diflerent foods in different. stales
of transformation.
A number of contrasts are apparent in the activities associated with food storage, prep-
aration and consumption in the earlier and later Neolithic. In both cases we observe par,.-
tices associated with the secondary transformation, cooking and consumption of foods
around the hearth. Nevertheless, thc relationship between the activities associated with
the hearth and the other activities surrounding food technology, especially storage. are
quite different. In the earlier Neolithic thc inner chamber of the house provides the f o c i , ~
for storage, and there is no clear evidence for siorage within pottery vessels. Xn the later
Neolithic the storage of barlej, in large Grooved ware vessels is associatcd with penph-
era1 locations around the house. In some cases these vessels appear to be an integral
feature of the house. 1have already observed that the use of Grooved ware lor siorage
characterizes an important difference between the carliei. and later Neolithic. but \,what
constitutes this change and why does it occur? ln order 1-0 consider this problem E will
return to the problem discussed at the beginning of the paper, that is the relationship
between the social practices associated with food and material culture and the experience
of monuments. We need to reconsider the relationship between the social practices
surrounding food and those surrounding the treatment of the dead.

The treatment of the &a& mortuary practices and the architecture a%death

Just like earlier Neolithic houses., the space within chambered tombs is divided up by
orthostats. Given this we may suggest that, as with the orthostats within the house, these
features may represent doorways into defined chainbers (Richards 1992). Due to :hc
nature of the architecture we may consider movement through the tomb in a linear direc-
tion to be an important aspect of experiencing the tomb. As with the house, the inner
chamber of the tomb provides a focus (Richards 1992). While the house contained stone
alcoves and shelves, the end chamber of the tomb contains features such as benches, sioxle
boxes and paving. At Poini of Cott. Westray (Davidscn and Henshail 1989) ~ h inner. c
The world on a plate: c-eramita,food techtzology and cosmologjl z ~ nNeolitlzic Orkney 67

chamber comprised two stone boxes, while at Calf of Etlay Long the inner chamber was
furnished with a stone shelf on which two stone axes were placed and below which was a
stone box containing human remains and an otter skull (Calder 1937). A t Holm of Papa
Westray North (Davidson and Henshall 1989: 120) the end chamber compriscd an earlier
cellular structure filled with animal and human bone around which the caii-n had been
built. In the paved end chamber at. Midhowe two human skulls were deposited. The
importance of the end chambers as a focus for the deposition of sltulls is amply illustrated
by the deposits at the Knowe of Yarso, Roilsay (Callander and Grant 1935) where twenly-
two skulls were placed, facing inwards, within the inner two chambers.
Just as houses are furnished with the foundations for wooden shelves between
orthostats, which parallel the stone box-beds found in later Neolithic houses (Ritchie
1983: 51), so tombs are furnished with stone shelves positioned between orthostats.
Shelves occur in a number of monuments including Calf of Eday Long, Huntersquoy and
Sandhill Smithy (Calder 1937. 1938), Bigland Round, the Knowe of Craie, the Knowe of
Rowiegar (Davidson and Henshall 1989: 3 01,131,137), 'hversoe Tuick (Grant 1939) and
Midhowe (Callander and Grant 1934). A t Midhowe each shelf held the articulated
remains of between two and four individuals. The parallels between these features and
the box-beds and shelves found in both earlier and later Neolithic houses, along with the
crouched position of the skeletons at Midhowe, led Davidson and Henshall (1989: 53--5)
to suggest that placing the dead on stone shelves refers to the idea of sleeping on beds.
The later Neolithic passage graves have a contrasting set of architectural features, which
include a large central chamber with a series of side cells exiting 'this chamber. One of the
most striking features concerning the mortuary practices associated with passage graves are
the contrasting deposits associated with each area. The central chamber corrtains articu-
lated and disarticulated human remains. while the side cells typically contain large numbers
of skulls. This pattern is exemplified at Isbister (Hedges 1983) where the central chamber
contained piles of disarticulated longbones and skulls, while the side cells exclusively held
skulls. A similar pattern occurred at Cuween Hill (Charleson 1902), where one skull was
placed in a recess in the west cell, while another was placed in the south cell. At Maes Howe
(Petrie 1861) there was an absence of human remains. but significantly a single skull frag-
ment was found in one of the side cells. At Quanterness (Renfrew 1979), the mortuary prac-
tices were more complex. Here there was an absence of skulls, but the central chamber
contained a series of cists cut into the floor which contained articulated human remains. In
the final phase of use a single articulated burial was placed in a pit cut into the debris of
human and animal remains in the central chamber. Similar pits were cut into the floor of
Quoyness (Childe 1951; Farrer 1868), these contained disarticulated human remains which
contrasted with the skulls found in the side cells of the passage grave.
There is a series of parallels in the social practices which occur in both houses and
tombs. Within the earlier Neolithic house (Fig. 5 ) the primary transformation of grain and
other foods occurs either in the end chamber or within the central chamber, while stored
foods will be placed in the end chamber on cupboards and shelves. Within the tomb (Fig.
5) the primary transformation of the deceased occurs when the individual is placed on the
stone shelves in the central chambers, while after decay certain elements of 1he skeleton.
especially skulls, may be placed in the end chamber. Sometimes they are placed within
stone boxes, and occasionally their remains are sealed in this area.
68 Anclrew Jones

Rg~lue5 (above, left) The use of space in earlier Neolithic monuments. 'Top: In the house A: Storage
location. B: Location of primary and secondary transformation of foods, Bottom: In the tomb A:
Storage location. B: Location of transformation through decay. Scale as for Figure 1.
Figure 6 (above, right) The use of space in later Neolithic monuments. Top: In the house A: Storage
location. B: Location of primary transformation of foods. C: Location of secondary transformation
and consumption of foods. Bottom: In the passage grave A: Storage locatiorr. B:Location of trans-
formation through decay. Scale as for Figure 2.

The practices associated with later Neolithic houses are more complex (Fig. 6 ) , with
food being stored in side cells, box-beds and beneath the dresser. If undergoes primary
transformation in a peripheral location around the edge of the house, while its final traras..
formation occurs when it is cooked around the hearth. In passage graves the deceased are
placed within the central chamber where they are allowecl is decay. Occasionally the)/
may be placed in pits or stone cists during this process. On decay and disarticulation
specific skeletal elements, especially skulls, are placed in the side cells of the passage
grave. We observe regularities then in the spatial definition of the practices associated
with food and those associated with the treatment of the dead. However, the cultural
The world on a plate: ceramics, food technology and cosmology in Neolithic Orkney 69

idioms associated with both mortuary practices and food undergo considerable change
throughout the Neolithic.

Vessels for the ancestors: the symbolic nature of social practices in houses and tombs

During the earlier Neolithic, the way in which the living perceived the dead was connected
with the concept of sleep; the dead were placed crouched on stone shelves, as in sleep.
What is more, the architecture of the tomb suggests a finality of mortuary practice. The
linear nature of the architecture suggests a movement from the domain of the living, at
the entrance of the tomb, to the do~nainof the dead at the back of the tomb (Richards
1992). The placement of certain skeletal elements in stone boxes suggests that there was
a degree of value attached to these components of the skeleton and there may have been
some circulation of skeletal elements outside the tomb, since a skull fragment was found
at the ICnap of Howar (Trail1 and Icirltness 1937). However, we also observe human
remains being sealed within the end chamber.
In the later Neolithic practices changed. The architecture of the later passage graves also
suggests movement, but in a quite different direction. While the dead are separated from
the living by an extended passage, the internal architecture of the monument does not
suggest a linear progression away from the passage; inslead the architecture embodies a
movement from the centre of the monu~nentto the periphery. Nevertheless, the relation-
ship between sleep and death still remains culturally important, and is even extended to the
domestic context, where two adult womeil were interred in a cist beneath the right hand
box-bed in house 7, Skara Brae (Childe 1931). In a similar vein, the later Neolithic build-
ing at Stonehall (Richards forthcoming) is likely to represent a modified house in which the
box-bed areas have been utilized for the deposition of the dead. The interment of the dead
in cists, in both passage graves and in settlements, is therefore also suggestive of sleep.
However, while the metaphor of sleep was an important aspect of mortuary practices
during the later Neolithic, the concept of storage provided a new way of understanding
death. Just as the large Grooved ware vessels contained the stored produce of the harvest
within the alcoves, box-beds and dressers of the later Neolithic house, so the skulls of the
dead were stored in the side cells of the passage grave. 'The relationship between storage
and death within the house was concretized by the presence of large Grooved ware vessels
in the right hand box-bed under which the two women were buried in house 7, Skara Brae.
There is a transformation then in .the way in which the dead are conceptualized during
the Orcadian Neolithic. In the earlier Neolithic the dead are buried within chambered
tombs. The dead are considered to be asleep, however due to the finality of the deposits
of human remains it was thought to be a sleep from which the dead did not awake. During
the later Neolithic sleep continues to provide a means of understanding death, but the act
of storage provides a new way of thinking about death. The sleep associated with ances-
tral remains is no longer final, rather the remains are considered to be in a temporary state
akin to storage.
We have established a clear relationship between thr: social practices associated with
the dead and those associated with the consumption and storage of food. We now need
to review this relationship and consider how the two relate to issues of time and place. I
70 Andrelv Jones

believe that these issues are critical to ~dnCie~-stili~ding thr nalurc of tile changing social
practices associated with both food and the dead. 1 have already considered the relatiol-I-
ship between foocl aiid time; here L want r o Cc~cuson the relationship between barley. tirr~i:
and the contrasting strategies of consumption ancl storage during the Orcadian Neolithic:.
Barley is strongly associatecl with coaisicleratioais of temporality. It has an annual gu-owtlr
cycle punctuated by events such as sowing, shoot growth and e-i/eniually harvest. GeiX
(1993) considers the growth cycle of plants to be an important factor in determining hov!
time is culturally perceived. We nnay also consider the growth cycles of grain such as barley
to refer to the growth cycles of human beings (see Howe 1991). The growtlr cycle of bar1i:y
is therefore likely to engender notions of cyclical time occurring or] an annual Irasis. Wliile
the growth cycle of barley remains the same during the Neolitlsic, the treatment of bailey
changes. The changing treatment of "orley parallels many of the changes which occur in
nnortuary practices. During the earlier Neolithic the evidence for barley consumption is
confined to Unstan bowls. 1 have already observecl that Unstan ware is liltely to bc
produced around the time of harvest since the surface of some vessels contains iinprcs
sions of barley. There is a clear link then between pottery production and temporality.
Meanwhile, tlnstan ware is found in large numbers ciepositcd within the central sharn.
hers of chambered tombs. These deposits consist of a preponclerance of large volcrrr~e
vessels, often decorated with cross -hatched clecoration representing the outer surface or
the tomb. The diversity of decoratjve motifs on these vessels, cotlpled with the diverstty
of petrological provenances (Phemister and Scott 1942) sugges1.s that these vessels are
identified with specific groups. The largc volume of nrany of these vessels suggesis feast.-
ing activity at a specific juncture il-I the annual a:ycle, quite possibly around autumn or
miclwinter. The diversity of origins of these vessels suggests these activities are bound lip
with mortuary exchanges (Munn 1986; Muchler 1993). The large numbers of Unstan bowls
within chambered tolrlbs indicate that the tomb constituted a context for the final depo-
sition of pottery, just as it was for the clead.
These deposits represent a distinctive set of social practices in which notions of tirrse.,
agricultural products and the dead are brought together. Consunnption practices may hc
best consiclered as acts of remembrance and lorgetting (Battaglia 1990; Munn 1986:
Kuchler 1993). If we entertain the possibility that these deposits constitute the remains of
mortuary exchange and that these activities occur at a specific time of year, we may vicw
the consumption of barley as an act of remembrance in which the proclucts of a previous
generationmslabour (see Meillasoux 191%)are erniployed to represent. the dead. F<~W"NCVG,T,
much of the Unstan ware within chambered toinlrs was either smashed or overturned. VJe
nnay consider this to he an act of forgetting (Rowlands 19i33) in whic'il a link between r.he
destruction of the pot and the dissolution of the dead is irniplied.
The rclationslsips Iretween the use of barley arid notions of 1,irnc and death are more
subtle during the later Neolithic, altliough they are just as powerful. 'There is less of a
clear relationship between pottery production a.nd partic~alartimes of year, becausc 110
Grooved ware vessels are inqxessed with barley. I-lowever. large vessels do contain fany
axids representing barley, and these vessels are situated in alcoves and box.-beds irr a siru
ation analogous to those of the skulls within alcoves in passage graves (sec Fig. Q ) , What
is more, the small Grooved ware vessels were clearly used for rhe con~sumlsiionoC Irarley,
and it is these vessels that are decorated with complex passage grave a n designs, provid..
ing a fu.rther link between the consu~mptionuC barley and the dead. The storage ant!
Tlze world on a plate: ceramics, food technology and cosmology in Neolitlzic Orkney 41

subsequent consumption of barley in the settlement colnmelnorates the existence of the


ancestors in the passage grave.
While Grooved ware vessels are found in passage graves, they are not deposited there
in great numbers, and those that are, are more likely to contain cattle products (Jones
1997). Unlike the earlier Unstan bowis, the Groovecl ware which contains barley is
deposited within the settlement. Just as the skulls of the dead represent a resource to be
drawn on, so too barley stored in Grooved ware rep-resents a resource which may be
drawn on at any time during the annual cycle. What is more, the process of storage, prep-
aration and consumption in the later Neolithic house is a spatial inversion of the process
of decay ancl storage occurring in passage graves. The act of memorialization is incor-
porated within the activities of daily life (see Connerton 1989). The evidence for barley
processing and deposition at Barnhouse suggests a centralized process of redistribution
occurring with the settlement (Hinton 1995; Jones 1997). Barley is not a prestige resource
but is shared between the community. .lust as barley constitutes a shared resource so the
stored human skulls within passage graves represent a similar kind of shared resource.
Therefore we may view passage graves as temporary storage places for the dead rather
than places of final deposition and burial. The process of storage constitutes a new way
of relating the dead to the living.
We observe a transformation in the way in which the dead are socially and culturally
identified. In the earlier Neolithic the relationship between the living and the dead is
expressed through acts of consumption, in the context of the chambered tomb. Since
eating constitutes an act of incorporation in which food is transferred from the outside to
the inside of the body (Orlove 1994). the process of consumption established a link
between the dead and the living. The act of eating in the presence of the dead was there-
fore a powerful statement of social incorporation. While the dead remained sleeping
within the tomb, the act of eating enabled the dead to be remembered at pri:cise times of
the year. In the later Neolithic practices changed. Agrici.dtura1 products are stored as were
the dead. A relationship was established between the dead and the living through
consumption, but which was as much metaphorical as physical. While the dead were
considered to be sleeping this was transitory since death was merely a process of storage.
The consumption of stored resources, especially barley, occurred in settlements in the
presence of the living. The living were eating on behalf of the dead. This was also a
commemorative process, however the dead were no longer remembered at specific times
of year, but on a daily basis. The ancesiors were now considered to be all pervasive.
We may consider these changing social practices to relate to the way in which identity
is expressed socially. In the earlier Neolithic this may be most powerfully expressed in the
context of the presence of the dead within the tomb, during the later Neolithic it is
expressed in the context of the settlement. In the first instance the expression of social
identity is related to access to the remains of the dead, in the second instance to concepts
of a shared ancestral resource.

Canclusion: cosmology, storage and the ancestors

The issue of storage has traditionally been viewed either pragmatically, as a means of insur-
ing against risk (Halstead and O'Shea 1989), socially as a means of strategic aggrandizement
72 Andrew Jones

(Ingold 1986; Hayden 3 990), or as a necessary elenlent in the kind of stable economy which
is able to 'finance' monument construction (Case 1969). Bn this concluding section of the
paper 1want to reconsider the cosn~ologicalnature of storage. Rather than simply viewing
storage as a component of the inexorable process of agricultural intensification during the
Neolithic, more critically we must realize that one of the most important aspects of storagc:
is that it engenders a new conception of time and place. 'The act of storage is not sinnply
related to cyclical conceptions of time, more importantly it is associated with memory.
As Bradley (1998: 51-67) has recently noted, traditional views sC the Neolithic corre.
late agriculture with the onset of the Neolithic. However, rather than simply considering
the two as necessarily related he considers the relationship to be more complex. with a
gradual shift during the Neolithic from monuments with little or no access to the dead, to
monuments with open access associated with ancestral remains. H e observes that the
earlier monuments are not especially associated with agriculture, while the later mon:_r-
ments are associated with periods of agricultural intensification, I'here seems to be a
relationship then between the dead as an ancestral resource and agriculture. By consider.
ing storage in more detail we gain a clearer understanding of this link.
The memory associated with the use of barley in earlier Neolithic pottery is simple. It is
associated with particular times of year, autumn or midwinter, and a particular place. the
chan~beredtomb. Time and place are conflated with a specific act of nsemorialization. The
memory associated with the later Neolithic ceramics is more complcx. While it is associ-
ated with a particular place, the settlement, the storage of barley allows inemory to be
articulated in a new way. The act of storage allows barley to be utilized throughout the year,
and what is more it recalls particular points in the year such as harvest when barley was
most plentiful. The reuse of stored produce during the year is then a repeated mnemonic
act. In precisely the same way as barley is stored in side alcoves and utilized on a daily basis,
ancestral remains are stored and utilized during certain times of the year. There is a close
affiliation between the two; barley is contained within large Grooved ware vessels, and the
spirits of the dead are contained within skulls placed in passage graves. Both constitute the
material remains of events which happened in the past, but which are continually reconsei.-
tuted in the present. It is this act of memorialization evhicli brings about the veneration of
he dead as ancestors. While the storage of food is a necessary part of this process, pottery
is also integral since unlike other containers it is not perishable, and the act of rcplenislning
the resources of stored foods within the same fixed container year after year is itself an act
of memory. This is due to the regenerative properties of barley. By placing barley in the
same pottery vessel year after year, a material link is established between the bau1i:y
produced by the ancestors and that consbaaled by the living.
Just as the act c9f storage involves bringing together foodstulfs within one place, so the
dead are brought together within a single placc. Indeed, Richards (1988) has suggested
that the remains within Orcadian passage graves may constitute deposits which have been
removed from earlier tombs, suggesting that the accum~~lation oC tl-ie remains o l the ances-
tral dead within one place was considered to be of importance. The acc~~mulation of ances
tral remains in this way constitutes the creation of a shared ancestral communi'qj (Whittic
1996: 261). Similarly, while storage has traditionally been co~nsideredto be a requirement
of a prestige economj (Hayden 1990), the evidence frorun Barnhouse suggests that storerl
produce is actually shared betweerr he coln~nunityand consur-i~edon a daily basis.
The world o n a plate: ceramics, food technology and cosmology in Neolithic Orkney 73

Storage is a critically important activity which is both embedded in, and collstitutive of,
new ways of engaging with the world during the Neolithic. Storage is not simply a natural
process, rather the very act of storage heralds a critical juncture in the way time and place
are rethought and experienced. It is both physical process and metaphor. We ;should think
of storage as enabling a process of memorialization which allowcd the dead to be seen as
signifiers of an ancestral past. In conclusion, we should not seek to view either the process
of storage or the accumulation of allcestral remains as prior to one another, rather we
should view both as linked together in a single act of rethinking the Neolithic world.

Acknowledgements

I must acknowledge my debt of thanks to the late Camilla Dickson for the provision of
barley for use in the gas chromatography work, and for discussion of the unpublished
Skara Brae material. I would also like to thank Andrew Baines and Hannah Sackett for
an interesting week spent on Orkney discussing some of these ideas in relation to the sites
themselves. Thanks must also go to Richard Bradley and Howard Williams who provided
helpful comments and suggestions regarding this paper. Finally this paper grew out of two
separate papers presented in sessions on 'The role of storage in the development of socio-
cultural complexity' and 'General perspectives in art' at the Reading meeting of the
Theoretical Archaeology Group. I must thank the organizers of both sessions.

Department o f Archaeology
University College Dublin

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