Celtic Myth Show News

Bringing the Tales and Stories of the Ancient Celts to your Fireside

Category: Science (Page 1 of 4)

History in the hills: on the trail of Scotland’s prehistoric rock art

Cup and Ring marks are thought to be a form of prehistoric rock art. They are found mainly in Ireland, Wales, North England, Brittany, Portugal, Finland and Scotland (as well as some more widely distributed instances). They consist of a concave depression, no more than a few centimetres across, pecked into a rock surface and often surrounded by concentric circles also etched into the stone. Sometimes a linear channel called a gutter leads out from the middle. The Guardian brought us this great post about a trip across the Hillside above Dundee with George Currie, former member of the pop-group Darts, in search of these relics.


Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “History in the hills: on the trail of Scotland’s prehistoric rock carvings” was written by Sam Wollaston, for The Guardian on Monday 19th June 2017 05.30 UTC

I’m on a hillside above Dundee with a man named George who used to play lead guitar in the 70s doo-wop band Darts. We’re looking for prehistoric rock art, and finding it too. (George – George Currie – knew it was here; he found it before.) He pulls back a flap of turf from a rock to reveal what is known as a cup mark, a round depression in the surface. “Can you see that wee circle?” he says, brushing away the soil with his hand.

I can. And I’m not going to lie: in my – admittedly inexpert – opinion it doesn’t compare to the Altamira or Lascaux cave paintings. Nor am I having a Tutankhamun moment, suddenly seeing “wonderful things”. What I’m seeing is a dent in a rock, with a barely discernible ring round it. Made by a person, some time around 3300BC.

Scotland map.

Actually, that is interesting, and now I’m thinking of Mr or Mrs Neolithic, right here on this hillside, same view (minus the big transmitter mast), bashing away at this very rock with another, smaller one.

There are similar cup and ring marks on rocks all over the world, from Australia to Korea, Africa and Europe. Which is also interesting, given that these people weren’t in contact. It’s not entirely surprising, says George, and he calls on his musical background for a comparison. “There’s only so much we like,” he says. The same musical scale is used all over the world. “Culturally, we’re wired similarly.”

Marks at Craig Hill.
Marks at Craig Hill. Photograph: George Currie

But is it art? “The term is a modern concept, from just before the Renaissance,” he replies. “So whoever was doing these wouldn’t have considered it artistic.”

If not art, then what? The purpose of neolithic and bronze age petroglyphs is much debated and disputed, with theories ranging from the plausible (they mark births, deaths, possibly paths), through doodling and the warding off of evil, to the properly bonkers (energy lines, UFOs, aliens etc).

George is careful not to speculate, and has no time for “hippy bollocks”, even if he was once a hippy himself. He’s uneasy about me mentioning that rock art is sometimes found near pylons, because people might start talking about energy (he mentions someone who thinks Stonehenge was a power station). It’s for the simple reason that pylons are often built on rock, which is also where you’re likely to find rock art.

George Currie uncovering some marks.
George Currie uncovering some marks. Photograph: Sam Wollaston for the Guardian

The thing you can say for sure about rock art is that it indicates human presence. “Kelly was here,” he says, meaning Kilroy, I think, unless he knows of a neolithic or bronze age graffiti artist called Kelly. “The bottom line is it tells us someone was here at some time, marking rocks.”

George – from Dundee originally, now 67, fit as a fiddle from wandering the hills a couple of times a week in search of rock art – has always been interested in prehistory and archaeology, but has no formal training. He pretty much left school at 14 to do music, grew his hair down to here, was in a blues band, then Darts, who did well in the 1970s and early 80s, and had a load of hits (“Come back my love, don’t go away,” remember?). Good rock’n’roll behaviour stories too, but he doesn’t want me to put them in either.

He left the band to teach a bit (still does – guitar and music theory), but mainly to hillwalk. He found some rock art that hadn’t been logged before, and that got him started. There is something of the male, obsessive-collector thing about it, he says. He has a friend whose thing is photographing trains.

Glean da Eigg rock shelter.
Gleann da Eigg rock shelter. Photograph: George Currie

Of the 3,000 or so known carvings in Scotland, he has found around 680. He has a GPS to mark the positions of his finds. Now his work is part of a £1m, five-year project organised by Historic Environment Scotland, which will provide a digital database of Scotland’s neolithic and bronze age rock art.

Is there not a seen-one-seen-’em-all element, I wonder? Again, he dips into his other passion for analogy: “It’s a bit like the blues – it all sounds the same to everyone else but, to anoraks, it’s like, ‘Wow!’ ” He still gets it, the wow? “Most definitely. And there is that element of discovery, the first time anyone has seen this for x thousand years.”

I’m worried George has picked up on my initial underwhelmedness. It’s not the best day for seeing the art, he says. Winter is better, when the sun is low, and the rock wet … God, I’m sorry. And wrong. Because the more he talks about it, the more I want to know and see.

The next is more ornate, with markings all over it, including what looks like an acid house smiley face. George says it fits the bill to be the cover of a cist, an ancient burial chamber. He’s not saying it “is”, of course – just that it fits the bill, in terms of size. He says it’s “as good as it gets” and should be in a museum, and I’m beginning to agree.

Ornate rock markings.
Ornate rock markings. Photograph: George Currie

The following day, we’re at another favourite haunt, inland up the Tay valley in Perthshire, above the town of Aberfeldy. We’ve walked for an hour or so, up through woods, chattering chaffinches, a distant cuckoo, burbling skylarks, to a moor where the only sound is the sad whistle of a curlew and the occasional embarrassed posh chuckle of grouse. It’s magic, a little secret, no other people around.

There were once, though, thousands of years ago. After faffing around for a while, re-consulting the GPS, walking in circles, we find what we’re looking for. Kneeling down, George pulls away a tuft of heather and turf, and brushes away (he’s brought an actual brush today) at the rock beneath to reveal a cup mark with an incomplete ring, and a long tail. Like a question mark, an ancient mystery, in the rock.

Sam Wollaston was a guest of Visit Scotland, travelled with Virgin East Coast and stayed at Malmaison Dundee. 2017 is Scotland’s year of history, heritage and archaeology

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

Published via the Guardian News Feed plugin for WordPress.

—————————

iphoneYou can also now download a Celtic Myth Podshow App from the iTunes store. This is the most convenient and reliable way to access the Celtic Myth Podshow on your iPhone or iPod Touch. You’re always connected to the latest episode, and our App users have access to exclusive bonus content, just touch and play! To find out more visit the iTunes Store or our Description Page.

CMP App on AmazonYou can now also find an Android version of the App which works identically to the iPhone version. You can find it on Amazon or by clicking the image to the right.
Windows Phone AppYou can now also find the Windows Phone App in the Windows Phone Store.
If you come to the site and listen or listen from one of our players – have you considered subscribing? It’s easy and you automatically get the episodes on your computer when they come out. If you’re unsure about the whole RSS/Subscribing thing take a look at our Help page.

Save

Save

Save

Lego Iron Age Broch teaches young and old alike

The Caithness Broch Project is building a Lego Iron Age Broch model as an “eye-catching prop” to encourage people to find out more about the construction and use of brochs, reports the BBC.  Brochs are Iron Age roundhouses, and ruins of these homes can be found in the north and west Highlands and Orkney.

Caithness in the Highlands has more broch sites than anywhere else in Scotland. Working with universities and heritage and archaeology groups, Caithness Broch Project is also planning to hold a range of events during 2017’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology. These include clearing vegetation from broch sites to better aid their preservation and running art competitions for schools.

Specialist historical Lego Builders – ‘Brick to the Past’

At a height of 40cm and covering an area of about 1.2m, the roundhouse and a surrounding landscape are made of 10,000 pieces.

Read More

New light on the spread of Bell-Beaker pottery

Bell-beaker PotsHannah Devlin looks at a genome study that may explain the spread of bell-shaped pottery beakers across Europe 4,500 years ago in the latest episode of the Guardian’s Science Weekly podcast. Around 4,500 years ago, a craze for bell-shaped pottery beakers appears to have swept across what is now modern-day Europe. Archaeologists have unearthed the distinctive pots at sites from the Iberian peninsula to Ireland in the west and Poland in the east. They appear in Britain at around the same time as Stonehenge was built.

Bell-Beaker pottery spread from Poland to Ireland

The pots have been dug up in Ireland, Poland, and Britain (where the bell-beakers arrived around the same time as Stonehenge was going up.) The “fad” has caused much disagreement among archaeologists: Did this style spread from one settlement to another, “like prehistoric fidget spinners”? Or did the bell-beaker people arrive all at once via mass migration or invasion? A new study of ancient genomes is beginning to answer that question.

Bronze Age fashion or mass migration?

The artefacts are linked to what is known as the Bell-Beaker culture. Archaeologists have been in disagreement about whether the spread of the beakers signified a Bronze Age fashion that was passed from one settlement to another, like prehistoric fidget spinners, or whether there was a mass migration – or even invasion – of beaker folk?

This question has been impossible to answer by studying artefacts alone, but now a major ancient-genome study has begun to shed some light on the mystery.

To discuss ancient Europe, genetics and the beaker folk, Hannah Devlin is joined by Ben Roberts, an archaeologist at the University of Durham.

Subscribe & Review on iTunes, Soundcloud, Audioboom, Mixcloud & Acast, and join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter.

—————————

iphoneYou can also now download a Celtic Myth Podshow App from the iTunes store. This is the most convenient and reliable way to access the Celtic Myth Podshow on your iPhone or iPod Touch. You’re always connected to the latest episode, and our App users have access to exclusive bonus content, just touch and play! To find out more visit the iTunes Store or our Description Page.

CMP App on AmazonYou can now also find an Android version of the App which works identically to the iPhone version. You can find it on Amazon or by clicking the image to the right.
Windows Phone AppYou can now also find the Windows Phone App in the Windows Phone Store.
If you come to the site and listen or listen from one of our players – have you considered subscribing? It’s easy and you automatically get the episodes on your computer when they come out. If you’re unsure about the whole RSS/Subscribing thing take a look at our Help page.

Save

Save

Save

Save

New discoveries of the 3rd largest Roman town of Verulamium

Archaeological finds from the Roman town of Verulamium have been uncovered in St Albans. Recent gas main works in Verulamium Park revealed the location of the corner of the town wall and a previously unknown house – the area was formerly believed to have been the location for a road. Verulamium was the third largest city in Roman Britain and the area has been mapped through various excavations over the years.

Remains of Opus Signinum floor

Read More

More details about the new Iron Age Chariot and horse skeleton site

Rare Iron Age remains of a chariot and horse skeletons have been unearthed at a Pocklington housing site. It is said to be the first find in 200 years of a chariot with horses and only one of 26 in the UK. Described as being of “international significance”, the finds will shed more light on Iron Age Britain reports the Hull Daily Mail.

Archaeologists at the Burnby Lane site have previously found artefacts including a sword, shield, spears, brooches and pots in a large number of square barrows, dating back to 500 BC. It has now been revealed that 180 skeletons of men, women and children have been found at the site where a housing development is to take place. Archaeologists are working hand-in-hand with the developers.

Pocklington Iron Age Chariot and many more finds

Read More

Clan Macleod attack Macdonald clan in Eigg Island massacre

Bones discovered in a cave on Eigg have been linked to a massacre of almost the entire island’s population during a clan feud in the 16th Century. More than 50 bones were found after tourists found some of the remains in the Eigg Island Massacre Cave last year. Analysis by archaeologists at Historic Environment Scotland has dated the remains to the time of the killings reported the BBC.

Macdonalds murdered in Eigg Island Massacre

Read More

pictish-dragon-stone-found-in-orkney

Ancient Pictish Dragon stone unearthed by storm in Orkney

An ancient Pictish stone has been rescued from an eroding cliff face in Orkney. The tablet, which was buried for centuries before being unearthed during a storm, is only the third of its kind found in the islands. The stone was discovered earlier this month by archaeologist Dr Hugo Anderson-Whymark and is believed to be around 1300 years old.

It has the image of a cross flanked by a dragon on one side and a beast with the remains of a staff in its mouth on the other.

3D Model of ancient Pictish Dragon Stone

Read More

First multi-chamber Dolmen found in Israel

A rare megalithic structure, dating back 4,000 years, has been discovered at the Shamir Dolmen Field on the western foothills of the Golan Heights reports Sci-News. The newly-discovered megalithic stone structure is a unique, monumental, multi-chambered dolmen: a central chamber roofed by a gigantic engraved capstone and surrounded by a giant tumulus (stone heap) into which at least four additional sub-chambers were built.

First reported Multi-Dolmen or multi-chamber Dolmen in Levant

Read More

Helpers needed for Castell Henllys Iron Age village

Castell Henllys Iron Age Village will be opening its doors on Saturday (March 11) in a bid to form a new volunteer group that will help care for the unique heritage site reports the Milford Mercury.

An open afternoon will begin at 2pm to welcome those who are interested in volunteering some of their time and expertise to support the prehistoric site, which is owned and run by the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority.

Taking part in events at Castell Henllys

Castell Henllys Manager, Jenn Jones said:

Read More

Bronze Age Ava reveals medicinal plants in Ancient Scotland

In 1987, a team of archaeologists unearthed a Bronze Age grave in Achavanich, an area in the county of Caithness, Scotland. Inside the grave, they found the remains of a young woman. They called her Ava, after the place where she lived some 4,000 years ago.

As Steven McKenzie reports for the BBC, archaeologist Maya Hoole has been leading a long-term research project into the site, hoping to uncover details about Ava’s life. Most recently, Hoole and her fellow researchers identified an array of pollens that clung to a clay beaker found inside Ava’s grave. These pollens suggest that Ava lived in a lush, forested region that was very different to the treeless landscape stretching across the area today.

Bronze Age Pollens found in Beaker

Read More

Page 1 of 4

All content on this site is believed to be either in the public domain or is presented as an introduction to the originating site. No infringement of copyright is intended. If an infringement has unwittingly occurred, please inform us straightway by emailing garyandruth@celticmythpodshow.com and it will be removed.

Additionally, all Celtic Myth Podshow promotional material, logos and banners may be redistributed freely provided a link back to this site is retained but the Copyright remains with the Celtic Myth Podshow.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén