Animal, vegetable or mineral? Characterising shell-lime, maerl-lime and limestone-lime mortar evidence from the Late Norse and Medieval site of Tuquoy, Orkney

Mark Thacker, John Hughes, Nic Odling

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract

Abstract

Recent examination of an extensive curated assemblage of mortar samples, removed from the Late Norse and Medieval site of Tuquoy (Orkney) during excavation in the 1980s, suggested the collection was associated with distinct groups of compositionally contrasting materials related to discrete constructional events. Subsequent petrographic analysis supported this early interpretation and presented evidence for a remarkable series of phase-specific mortars, bound with a range of different biogenic and geogenic lime source materials - including marine shell, coralline algae (maerl) and limestone. Wider landscape survey highlighted the broad range of exposed calcareous materials in the coastal and sedimentary environments dominating the Northern Isles of Scotland today, and that many of these different potential lime sources were exploited by craftspeople at different times in the Medieval and later period is now clear.

Given the high significance of the Tuquoy mortar study for our understanding of the development of this culturally important site, and as a prelude to more general publication of the wider archaeological project, a further investigation of selected samples from the mortar assemblage is now being undertaken through a range of geoscientific techniques. This paper presents emerging evidence from a comparative petrographic, SEM-EDS and XRD study designed to further characterise these various mortar materials, and challenge those previous interpretations of contrasting building lime sources. Like most environmental archaeological investigations, this study is essentially concerned with interpreting the depositional histories of surviving materials, but with a particular focus on establishing the distinction between (anthropogenic) kiln relict and (natural) added temper mixtures when both contain biogenic and geogenic clasts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages107-107
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jun 2019
Event5th Historic Mortars Conference 2019 - Universidad de Navarra, Pamplona, Spain
Duration: 19 Jun 201921 Jun 2019
Conference number: 5
https://www.unav.edu/en/web/historic-mortars-conference

Conference

Conference5th Historic Mortars Conference 2019
Abbreviated titleHMC 2019
CountrySpain
CityPamplona
Period19/06/1921/06/19
Internet address

Keywords

  • Shell-Lime
  • Maerl-Lime
  • Petrography
  • Archaeology
  • Medieval

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  • Activities

    • 1 Participation in conference
    • 1 Publication peer-review
    • 1 Types of External academic engagement - Membership of peer review panel or committee

    5th Historic Mortars Conference 2019 (Event)

    John Hughes (Peer reviewer)

    1 Feb 201930 May 2019

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial workPublication peer-review

    5th Historic Mortars Conference 2019

    John Hughes (Member of programme committee)

    19 Jun 201921 Jun 2019

    Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

    5th Historic Mortars Conference- member of Scientific Committee

    John Hughes (Examiner)

    Nov 2018Jul 2019

    Activity: OtherTypes of External academic engagement - Membership of peer review panel or committee

    Research Output

    • 3 Conference contribution
    • 1 Commissioned report
    • 1 Chapter

    Animal, vegetable or mineral? Characterising shell-lime, maerl-lime and limestone-lime mortar evidence from the Late Norse and Medieval site of Tuquoy, Orkney

    Thacker, M., Hughes, J. & Odling, N., 16 Jul 2019, Proceedings of the 5th Historic Mortars Conference: RILEM Proceedings PRO 130. Alvarez, J. I., Fernandez, J. M., Navarro, I., Duran, A. & Sirera, R. (eds.). Paris: RILEM Publications S.A.R.L., Vol. PRO 130. p. 758-777 20 p. (RILEM Proceedings; vol. 130).

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

    Open Access
    File
  • Petrography of historic mortar materials: polarising light microscopy as a method for characterising lime-based mortars

    Balksten, K., Lindqvist, J-E., Nitz, B. & Hughes, J., 19 Jun 2019, 5th Historic Mortars Conference. HMC 2019. Book of Abstracts: University of Navarra, Pamplona. 19th - 21st June, 2019. Galindo, J. I. A., Alvarez, J. M. F., Blasco, I. N., Benito, A. D. & Bejarano, R. S. (eds.). Pamplona: University of Navarra, p. 75-75 1 p.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

  • Petrography of historic mortar materials: polarising light microscopy as a method for characterising lime-based mortars

    Balksten, K., Nitz, B., Hughes, J. J. & Lindqvist, J-E., 16 Jul 2019, Proceedings of the 5th Historic Mortars Conference: RILEM Proceedings PRO 130. Alvarez, J. I., Fernandez, J. M., I. N., Duran, A. & Sirera, R. (eds.). Paris: RILEM Publications S.A.R.L., Vol. PRO 130. p. 453-467 15 p. (RILEM Proceedings; vol. 130).

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

    Open Access
    File
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