Scotland's Archaeological Periods and Ages (ScAPA)

Those working with archaeological periods have long acknowledged the lack of useful scope notes- these are short statements that broaden out what a period term means or relates to. Scope notes are used in CANMORE, HER's and other databases and are restricted to 254 characters in length, but that can be increased to 500 or even 750 characters.

ScAPA have released the draft work on the website: which provides a Linked Data Resource This creates persistent URLs of each term in the vocabulary. The data may also be downloaded in PDF format from

Current work by Peter McKeague (Historic Environment Scotland), Ceri Binding (University of South Wales) and others is focused on refining these statements to make them more useful for those unfamiliar with the terms.

The idea is to get away from statements like the following:

Neolithic: The New Stone Age, this period follows on from the Palaeolithic and the Mesolithic and is itself suceeded by the Bronze Age. This period is characterized by the practice of a farming ecomony and extensive monumental constructions.

Late Neolithic: The third and latest subdivision of the Neolithic, or New Stone Age.

and move towards statements more like:

The Neolithic, or New Stone Age, sees the transition from hunter gatherer to farming economies. Monumental architecture, including chambered cairns, develops. Pottery is first used and stone tool technologies become more sophisticated.

One way to refine existing statements is to let those who use them suggest changes, so the scope notes draft can be found here on the ScARF website so that those interested can read them and return comments. Comments can be returned to Peter McKeague (peter.mckeague [at] hes [dot] scot