9.6 Future Recommendations

From the detailed recommendations above, the key future recommendations are:

  1. More work is needed on integrated survey methodologies to get a more representative picture of the Iron Age landscape in an area, beyond the limits of existing techniques.
  2. Robust dating information is key to understanding the Iron Age.
  • Sampling and dating strategies should be designed to maximise the amount of chronological information a site can provide, involving the selection of appropriate technique (or combination of techniques), and prioritising the dating of particular types of site.
  • Results of dating by all techniques should be made available in accessible format, ideally from the same location.
  • Existing archive material from old excavations should be dated to clarify regional sequences: key targets are the Western Isles Atlantic roundhouse sequence, the Howe, and the hillforts of south-east Scotland
  • Key groups of artefacts or ecofacts should be dated (either directly or from associated contexts) to understand their chronology and development (as done successfully for Iron Age human remains; e.g. Tucker & Armit 2009, Shapland & Armit 2011)
  • Sample excavation of regional groups of sites has its drawbacks but would provide a valid approach to get a basic sequence for modelling and further testing
  • More integrated approaches are needed to providing data-sets linking site-based, artefactual, environmental and documentary information through CANMORE (eg further work in geo-referencing museum collections (especially findspot information) to RCAHMS Canmore data would be of great value).
  • Older museum collections are often inadequately catalogued, while the scale of more recent excavation assemblages means they are often slow to be integrated into museum databases - targeted programmes of (re)cataloguing and archiving important assemblages would be of value.
  • More ambitious finds analysis is required, following and developing best practice elsewhere (e.g. Cool & Baxter 2002), to help make such studies more attractive. Material culture training should be more of a focus within University education. Further synthetic work on groups of finds is required. 'Stray find' data should be integrated within the NMRS, and contextual data for stray finds (including hoards) should be pursued where possible.