Post-glacial hunter-gatherer subsistence patterns in Britain: Dietary reconstruction using FRUITS

Catriona Pickard, Clive Bonsall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The diets of 85 individuals from 21 sites were modelled using FRUITS based on their bulk bone collagen C- and N-stable isotope ratio signatures. The sites, which occur in a range of environments, group into three distinct periods corresponding to the British ‘Late Upper Palaeolithic’, ‘Early Mesolithic’ and ‘Late Mesolithic’, respectively.
The FRUITS models for three LUP sites dated to the Bølling-Allerød Interstadial suggest an emphasis on terrestrial (animal and plant) resources. The FRUITS predictions for the Early and Late Mesolithic suggest there was significant variability in diet between sites and occasionally between individuals from the same site. The Late Mesolithic coastal site of Cnoc Coig in western Scotland shows the expected emphasis on marine resources. In contrast, Early and Late Mesolithic coastal sites in South Wales show greater reliance on terrestrial food sources. In several cases, our model predictions differ from the interpretations of previous authors. A surprising outcome is the lack of evidence for the consumption of freshwater resources at sites near large rivers.
We add the caveat that our model predictions are likely influenced by inadequate baseline δ13C and δ15N data for wild terrestrial plant and aquatic resources, in particular.
Original languageEnglish
Article number142
JournalArchaeological and Anthropological Sciences
Issue number7
Early online date25 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • stable isotopes
  • Late Upper Palaeolithic
  • Mesolithic
  • Britain


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