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HOLOCENE VARIATIONS IN THE SCOTTISH MARINE RADIOCARBON RESERVOIR EFFECT

Philippa L Ascough, Gordon T Cook, Andrew J Dugmore, John Barber, Elaine Higney, E Marian Scott

Abstract


We assessed the evidence for variations in the marine radiocarbon reservoir effect (MRE) at coastal, archaeological Iron Age sites in north and west Scotland by comparing AMS measurements of paired marine and terrestrial materials (4 pairs per context). ΔR values were calculated from measurements on material from 3 sites using 6 sets of samples, all of which were deposited around 2000 BP. The weighted mean of the ΔR determinations was -79 ± 17 14C yr, which indicates a consistent, reduced offset between atmospheric and surface ocean 14C specific activity for these sites during this period, relative to the present day (ΔR = ~0 14C yr). We discuss the significance of this revised ΔR correction by using the example of wheelhouse chronologies at Hornish Point and their development in relation to brochs. In addition, we assess the importance of using the concepts of MRE correction and ΔR variations when constructing chronologies using 14C measurements made on materials that contain marine-derived carbon.

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