Viking Unst Life
Micromorphology and palaeoenvironmental investigations demonstrate that the land around the longhouse was for grazing and hay meadow. Substantial amounts of worked steatite were found on the site. There are worked outcrops in the hills above the site, and so steatite quarrying, and the manufacture of steatite goods, probably played an important role in the economy of the site. Concentrations of slag and iron in two pits may have been dumping areas for waste materials associated with iron working. Hammerscale shows that metal working had been carried out on the site: perhaps to make tools to assist in quarrying steatite.
Burnt grains of hulled barley of exceptionally good quality found in the ash midden indicate that the area was cultivated during the 16th and early 17th centuries. Soil micromorphology suggests that the area was cultivated throughout the life of the longhouses. The land was stripped of turf during the 17th century, and was probably when cultivation ceased.
Pollen and grain samples taken from the surroundings of Upper House, Underhoull have been shown to represent crop weeds which are suggestive of local cultivation of cereal crops, rather than imports from elsewhere in Shetland.