The work of historical geographers has produced a rich literature concerning medieval and later rural settlement in Scotland. This work has frequently been used in an uncritical manner by archaeologists studying this period, often to the exclusion of developing a suitable theoretical and methodological basis for archaeological research. These models might be appropriate for the 'big history' paradigms of the disciplines which generated them, but they fail to address several issues which are key to the archaeologist. This paper investigates the pre-crofting settlement of two areas of the Isle of Lewis to argue that to understand post-medieval settlement, it is necessary to utilise both conventional archaeological survey and theoretical considerations of how societies interact and react to the particular environment in which they are placed.
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