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Category: Scotland

Pictish Palace on Rhynie Man Pictish Stone site found in Aberdeenshire – Repost


Pictish Palace on Rhynie Man Pictish Stone site found in Aberdeenshire – Repost

We’ve managed to find one of our old News articles that had been lost after our database crash, so would like to bring it back to you. BBC Scotland reports that archaeologists excavating a field in Aberdeenshire where standing stones were found believe they have uncovered the entrance to a Pictish palace. The University of Aberdeen team is digging at a site where the so-called Rhynie Man stone was discovered in the 1970s.

The Rhynie Man Pictish Stone site

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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Significant Bronze Age weapons hoard found in Scotland

A gold-decorated Late Bronze Age spearhead and other artefacts uncovered during an Angus excavation have been hailed as “the find of a lifetime” reported the BBC earlier this year.

The weapon was discovered during an archaeological evaluation on land being developed into council football pitches at Balmachie in Carnoustie.

The spearhead was found beside a bronze sword, pin and scabbard fittings. It is one of only a handful of gold-decorated bronze spearheads ever found in Britain and Ireland.

The discovery was made in a pit close to a Late Bronze Age settlement that was excavated by GUARD Archaeology on behalf of Angus Council.

Internationally Significant Bronze Age Weapons

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Imbolc Folklore, Rites and Traditions

Imbolc (Imbolg) the festival marking the beginning of spring has been celebrated since ancient times and the Imbolc folklore that has developed over the years is fascinating. It is a Cross Quarter Day, midpoint between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. It can fall between the 2nd & 7th of February when calculated as the mid point between the astronomical Winter Solstice and the astronomical Spring Equinox.

Cross quarter days were traditionally when leasehold payments and rents for land and premises were paid, and on these days people had a little more freedom to celebrate and mark the changing seasons.

In some places in Ireland and Scotland, all work ceased on the feast and devotions at holy wells took place instead.

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Salt and Bread

The Sin-Eater: Saviour Of The Dammed

Sin Eater - The Sin-Eater: Saviour Of The Dammed

Sin-Eater

The Tradition Of The Sin-Eater

In 18th, 19th and 20th Century Scotland, England, and some Welsh communities, families placed a piece of bread on the breasts of their recently passed loved ones.

That’s not the strange part — the families then hired someone to eat the bread, believing that the practice would somehow absolve the sins of the deceased.

Where did this strange ritual come from? 

Eating food at a funeral (or shortly thereafter) is not uncommon — large family dinners often follow the death of a loved one, while drinking has been a cornerstone of wakes for centuries.

Wake - The Sin-Eater: Saviour Of The Dammed

 Funeral Wake

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Scotts View: Three Peaks - Eildon Hills from teh article about Michael Scott, the Scottish Wizard

Michael Scott – The Scottish Wizard


Latest Episode!

The Borders of Scotland is an area steeped in folklore and fantastic stories of fairies and magical goings-on. One such tale is firmly based around a real historical personage – a remarkable man, whether or not you believe the more incredible stories about him. He is Michael Scott – the infamous Borders Wizard.

Through his studies of arcane books Michael is supposed to have tamed demonic forces to his will. His most famous act of wizardry was the reputed splitting of the Eildon Hills into the three peaks that we see today towering above the town of Melrose.

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