Dr Oliver Craig, of Newcastle University, who carried out the
analysis said: "The interesting thing about this site in Scotland is
its location and the harsh environment around it.
"People had not expected them to be sophisticated farmers and
this evidence would tend to contradict that."
Writing in the scientific journal Nature, the team said the new
evidence resolved an age-old debate about whether early inhabitants
of the islands subsisted on dairy or meat farming.
Iron Age diets
In the archaeological record, dairy farming is regarded as more
advanced than beef farming because it is a higher-risk, more
Bones of calves were also found at the site, suggesting that the
Iron Age farmers were slaughtering the young animals to maintain
The scientists are now testing the cooking pots for signs of
other animal and plant products, such as meat and waxes.
This should provide a more accurate picture of the Iron Age
diets of these early inhabitants.
Dr Mike Parker Pearson, of Sheffield University's Department of
Archaeology, who collaborated on the project, said: "We've got a
whole new doorway open to us in terms of the evidence because we can
start to look at the foods they were eating and preparing in these