Dataset Open Access

Cairn and Landscape Interaction: A Study of Human Ecodynamics in the North Atlantic

Roigé Oliver, Mar

Thesis supervisor(s)

Opitz, Rachel; Colleen, Batey

Cairns are very versatile constructions, used for a variety of human activities. For this reason, this project focuses on the study of navigational and agricultural cairns as a way to further the study and understanding of human ecodynamics in the North Atlantic. The project was developed within the wider framework of DataARC, a ciberinfrastructure that interconnects and facilitates access to several North Atlantic datasets.

The study uses a variety of interdisciplinary data, methodologies, tools, and approaches in its analysis. It is divided in two case studies. The first case study analyses the role of navigational cairns and their relationship with the roads and the general landscape while creating proposed routes between late medieval/early modern farm networks in Iceland. The results support the hypothesis that cairns were being used as road markers, and suggests a dependence between landscape features and cairn positioning, indicating landscape agency. The second case study focuses on analysing the position and effect of clearance cairns in the Scottish landscape. Archaeological and landscape data (i.e. soil quality, land compaction, erosion levels, and continued use in agricultural practices) were combined in a newly created dataset that was examined using statistical analysis. The results show a correlation between the presence of cairns and a high erosion risk while proposing three effects of clearance cairns on soils: so exhaustive they are no longer cultivable, they are cultivable but have a risk of erosion, and so non-exhaustive that they can still be cultivated.

Overall, the project's findings highlight cairn's usefulness in the study of human ecodynamics. The datasets available here belong to both case studies. The first presents an Icelandic (Westfjords) navigational dataset with information from the routes the cairns are located in as well as their likelihood of being a route marker. The second offers a Scottish clearance cairn dataset which includes a variety of archaeological, historical, and geological data. There are two versions of this dataset: the raw version (ClearanceCairnDataset) and the processed version which offers an interactive table which classifies the cairns on the basis of soil type as well as a variety of other variables (InteractiveClearanceCairns). The code used to analyse this dataset and produce bar charts and pie charts has also been uploaded both in its original R file and a XPS version. Both datasets include metadata in PDF format. A CSV file with combinators created to connect these datasets to DataARC's concept map has also been included (CombinatorsForDataARC).

Files (653.9 kB)
Name Size
Barchart.R
md5:ccca744490c3c1f5fb5786ea8efc1457
6.7 kB Download
BarChartScript.oxps
md5:65e41cad1686e2efe7b4a359804b2345
81.9 kB Download
Charts.R
md5:d4a4a033c80d32d16a7a7237694dad97
6.1 kB Download
ClearanceCairnDataset.csv
md5:9fa99befdee5c59dd7a5cffec2b57422
177.8 kB Download
ClearanceCairnDatasetMetadata.pdf
md5:574478e1faa312190b6a13d2b580cb94
82.3 kB Download
CombinatorsForDataARC.csv
md5:ae98d4d2d78267965585ed671e69600d
7.5 kB Download
InteractiveCairnDataset.xlsx
md5:f15bfe4b5a279b23174db0ea349e7382
14.5 kB Download
NavigationalCairnDataSet.csv
md5:f95fd5e3cff54b4b1b7a922f22d0af1c
195.1 kB Download
PieChartScript.oxps
md5:ad5dab906c1e212e817cddbeb115d6c5
82.0 kB Download
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