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Marine radiocarbon reservoir effects for the Mesolithic and Medieval periods in the Western Isles of Scotland.

Ascough, P.L. and Church, M.J. and Cook, G.T. (2016) 'Marine radiocarbon reservoir effects for the Mesolithic and Medieval periods in the Western Isles of Scotland.', Radiocarbon., 59 (1). pp. 17-31.


This article presents new values for the Scottish marine radiocarbon reservoir effect (MRE) during the Mesolithic at 4540–4240 BC (6490–6190 BP) and the Medieval period at AD 1460–1630 (490–320 BP). The results give a ΔR of –126±39 14C yr for the Mesolithic and of –130±36 14C yr for the Medieval. We recalculate previously published MRE values for the earlier Holocene in this region, at 6480–6290 BC (8430–8180 BP). Here, MRE values are slightly elevated, with a ΔR of 64±41 14C yr, possibly relating to the 8.2ka BP cold event. New values for the Mesolithic and Medieval indicate lower MRE values, broadly consistent with an existing data set of 37 mid- to late Holocene assessments for Scottish waters, indicating stable ocean conditions. We compare the intercept and probability density function (PDF) methods for assessing ΔR. The ΔR values are indistinguishable, but confidence intervals are slightly larger with the PDF method. We therefore apply this more conservative method to calculate ΔR. The MRE values presented fill important gaps in understanding Scottish marine 14C dynamics, providing confidence when calibrating material from critical periods in Scotland’s prehistory, particularly the Mesolithic, when the use of marine resources by coastal populations was high.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:This article has been published in a revised form in Radiocarbon This version is free to view and download for private research and study only. Not for re-distribution, re-sale or use in derivative works. © Arizona Board of Regents on behalf of the University of Arizona 2016
Date accepted:29 September 2016
Date deposited:04 October 2016
Date of first online publication:28 December 2016
Date first made open access:28 June 2017

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