The authors deal with both wild and cultivated food plants, with spice plants, plants used in alcohol production, medical plants, dye plants and plants used for fuel and construction. The diet of the past can also be deduced from the bones and shells of animals on plant-rich archaeological sites. The great reduction in woodlands from prehistoric times, particularly in the Northern Isles and Hebrides, is also covered.
There are detailed discussions of the plant remains from the Neolithic village of Skara Brae on Orkney, from Bronze Age graves in Fife, from the sewage-filled defensive ditch at Bearsden Roman Fort, and from the silted-up fifteenth-century drain beneath Paisley Abbey. Particular attention is also paid to the many plants recovered from the broch at Howe on Orkney and from the crannog at Oakbank in Loch Tay.
The second part of the book details 40 particularly relevant plants - such as Cereals, Cloudberry, Coriander, Fig, Hazel, Monk's Rhubarb, Opium Poppy and Scots Pine. For each there is an explanation of the formal name, and statements on ecology, medicinal uses and types of remains found in the archaeological layers.
This is a book that will be indispensable for both archaeologists and historians (professional and amateur), and for natural historians and conservationists.