The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

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Dane's Stone (Standing Stone / Menhir) — News

The Dane's Stone collapses

After standing for almost 6,000 years, a monument in Highland Perthshire has been felled by the weather.

Days of heavy rain proved to be too much for the Dane’s Stone, which is believed to date back to the neolithic era or Bronze Age. The megalith succumbed to the wet conditions and toppled over.....

Link to the news story in The Courier

Ness of Brodgar (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork) — News

'Makes Skara Brae look like a shanty town.'

The Ness of Brodgar excavation continues:

"The earliest stage we have is about 3300BC - about 5,300 years ago - and we have evidence this particular site was in use for over 1,000 years."

Sunday Express article

Perth and Kinross — News

Early brewing in Perthshire...

Preparing the perfect prehistoric pint
By Elizabeth McQuillan

Academics have pondered over why we began to cultivate cereal, and in particular barley, crops alongside our livestock around 4000 BC. Common sense dictates that these grains provided an ideal source of carbohydrate, and it allowed some welcome additions such as bread, porridge, and sugars into the larder. But archaeological findings also suggest that we were partial to a bit of ale to wash down our supper, and that we have been home-brewing for quite some time.

In fact radiocarbon dating of residues found in a drinking vessel in Strathallan, Fife, identified the alcoholic tipple as having been fermented as early as the second millennium BC (1540BC to be exact; at a time when the ancient Egyptians were erecting gargantuan pyramidal structures). Next to this archaeological find lay the body of a young woman, so perhaps it had been a bad pint, or there was some refining still to be done with that particular recipe.

Fast-forwarding to our crop-growing Neolithic and Bronze Age years, at a ceremonial site in Balfarg/Balbirnie, Tayside, fermented grain and plant residues were found in large buried earthenware vessels – evidence that the cultivated grain was being used for more than making porridge and bread. The sample also contained the pollen of Deadly Nighshade, which may have had hallucinogenic properties, or perhaps was designed to poison all the party guests. Again, the recipe maybe just needed a bit of tweaking.

But then, without the benefit of a biochemistry degree to understand the processes involved, these early brewers could only experiment and learn through trial and error how to achieve the best brew. Shared with their neighbours, they probably drank the good with the bad, and slept off the effects to come back and try another day.

So, what would the brewing process have involved in 4000BC?

Malting (germination) could be achieved in watertight vessels with frequent water changes or by placing the grain in a tied bag in a running stream so the water remained fresh and didn't require changing. Soaked grain would then be laid on a flat floor away from the outside elements and regularly raked and watered. Once the grain reached an early stage of germination, the grain would be dried with a kiln to preserve the sugars.

Mashing (when starch is converted to sugar) involved grinding the grain with quernstones. This would help release natural enzymes and speed the conversion of the remaining starch to sugar. The gentle heat needed could have been provided by hot stones or by using the ash from the fire.

Sparging is washing through the mash with hot water to produce sweet wort that can then be fermented. Our ancestors would have probably used their woven baskets for this job, and let the watery soup filter into an earthenware vessel. The spent grain provided quality fodder for the livestock.

Fermentation needs yeast, and there are a number of possible methods to explain how this yeast was introduced. Airborne yeast could be enough but, in the Western Isles, a hazel "wand" was traditionally used to stir the brew during fermentation. Each time the wand would stir a new batch, the dried yeast on the wand would reactivate the process. Perfect.

A couple of mystical, biochemical hocus pocus weeks later, and a tantalising pitcher of ale with supper was a reality. And a party a racing certainty.

South Lanarkshire — News

Scotland's most ancient home found

Scotland's most ancient home found – at 14,000 years old

Date: 10 April 2009
By Jenny Haworth
Environment Correspondent
AMATEUR archaeologists have uncovered evidence of Scotland's oldest human settlement, dating back 14,000 years.

The team dug up tools that have been shown to date from the end of the last Ice Age.

It is the first time there has been proof that humans lived in Scotland during the upper paleolithic period.

This was a time when nomadic humans hunted giant elk and reindeer using bows and arrows, and when mammoth and rhino also roamed the land.

Flint arrowheads were discovered in a field by the Biggar Archeology Group. The tools had been made in a way that identified them as belonging to about 12,000 BC.

At that time, the North Sea was an expanse of land, around which the nomadic humans roamed. Similar tools have been found in Denmark, the Netherlands and Germany, but never before in Scotland.

Dr Alan Saville, a senior curator at the National Museum of Scotland, who helped identify the objects, said he was "very excited" when he saw them. "This is the breakthrough," he said. "Now we are able to say for absolute certain that we had human settlement at that time in Scotland."

He added: "Of course, it must be remembered that most of the North Sea was dry land at 12,000 BC, probably supporting a human population that would have links both east and west.

"But to have found our first British site of this period right in the middle of southern Scotland is remarkable."

Previously, the earliest evidence of human habitation in Scotland was thought to be at Cramond near Edinburgh, which had been radiocarbon dated to around 8,400 BC.

Next month, the archaeologists will return to the spot at Howburn Farm, near Elsrickle, to carry out a larger excavation and see what else they can find.

Tam Ward, project leader from Biggar Museums, said he was "gobsmacked" when he found out how old the tools were.

The team led by Mr Ward, an electrician who has been an amateur archaeologist for 30 years, spotted the site when they noticed a large number of artefacts on the surface of the ploughed field.

This was in 2005, and at first it was assumed the items belonged to the neolithic period, dating to about 3,000 BC, making them far less extraordinary.

It was not until now that they have been officially identified as belonging to a far earlier age by Dr Saville and his colleagues, after they caught sight of a few particularly unusual tools in the collection.

A technique used to fashion the blades known as "en eperon" made it clear they belonged to the upper paleolithic period.

Aileen Campbell, south of Scotland MSP, said the find was "just incredible".

"To know there is hard evidence that human beings had settled in the Biggar area some 14,000 years ago is quite inspiring, and helps put modern life into a bit of perspective," she said.

Stone of Morphie (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Images (click to view fullsize)

<b>Stone of Morphie</b>Posted by nickbrand

Colmeallie (Stone Circle) — Images

<b>Colmeallie</b>Posted by nickbrand

Colmeallie (Stone Circle) — Fieldnotes

Update re access: the new owners (non-local) who moved in a couple of years ago have now put up signs down the road stating "No unauthorised vehicles beyond this point", which I'm not sure is strictly kosher. Certainly access on foot is still covered under the Right to Roam legislation. I'm not recommending anyone breaking the law but these clowns are going to have to learn that the days of colonialism are over - and that the people of Scotland (and elsewhere) have the right to access sites which have been visited from time immemorial. Some local action is planned on this, stay tuned.

Eagle Stone (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Links

Statistical Accounts for Scotland, 1834-45

Eagle Stone (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Folklore

From the Statistical Accounts (see link):

There is another stone between Castle Leod and the spa with an eagle cut upon it, and called in Gaelic Clach an Tiom-pan. It stands close to the old line of road, and is supposed to mark the place where a number of the Munroes fell in an affray with the Mackenzies of Seaforth. The tradition is as follows:
The Lady of Seaforth dwelt at that time in a wicker or wattled house at Kinellan. A party of the Munroes came upon her by surprise, and carried off the Lady, house, and all that it contained. They were overtaken near Castle Leod, defeated with great slaughter, and the Lady of Seaforth rescued. Clach-an-tiompan was set up by the Munroes over the remains of their fellow-clansmen. Kenneth Oure is said to have prophesied that in course of time ships should be seen moored to this stone.

Carn na Croiche (Chambered Cairn) — Folklore

From The Statistical Accounts (see link):

On the summit of a wooded hill called Knock Navie, there is a cairn called Carna na Croiche, i.e. the cairn of the gallows. The tradition connected with it is, that some men who were travelling, being weary and faint with hunger, as they passed Achnacloich, stopped and asked the woman who had charge of the laird's dairy for some cheese and milk to allay their hunger, offering at the same time to pay for it. She, however, refused to give it; upon which, the men took it, laid down money for it, and went away. The woman immediately informed the laird of the circumstance, who being a man of a fierce and savage disposition, sent after the travellers, brought them back and hanged them on the spot now marked by the cairn.

Carn na Croiche (Chambered Cairn) — Links

Statistical Accounts, 1834-45

The Thief's Stone (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Folklore

From the Statistical Accounts (see link):

Antiquities. - Under this head, it may be mentioned, that, in a field a little to the west of the church, there is a singular upright stone, somewhat in the form of an obelisk, called Clach a Mhearlich, i.e. the thief's stone, - which is evidently of very ancient date. Though in the midst of an arable field, it is most religiously preserved, no attempt being made to remove it, or alter its position. None even of the oldest inhabitants are acquainted with any distinct tradition, respecting its origin or intention; but, from the name, it is conjectured that some noted robber was buried beneath it.

The Thief's Stone (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Images

<b>The Thief's Stone</b>Posted by nickbrand<b>The Thief's Stone</b>Posted by nickbrand<b>The Thief's Stone</b>Posted by nickbrand<b>The Thief's Stone</b>Posted by nickbrand<b>The Thief's Stone</b>Posted by nickbrand

Eagle Stone (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Folklore

Through the centuries this stone has gathered a host of legends. It was said to have been put up by the Munros after a battle with the Mackenzies and is inscribed with their crest, the Eagle, in memory of the slain. It is now recognised to be of far greater antiquity, inscribed as it is with Pictish symbols.

The Brahan Seer (Coinneach Odhar) said that if the stone fell down three times Loch Ussie would flood the strath below so that ships could sail up to Strathpeffer. It has already fallen twice, and is now very securely concreted in to ensure its stability!

The Thief's Stone (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Fieldnotes

Driven past this a number of times recently (currently working nearby), and will endeavour to bring a camera with me soon and get some photos.

The Clach a'Mheirlich or 'Thief's Stone' (Pictish Symbol Stone Class 1) stands in a field by the Alness to Invergordon road. On the front is an incised step symbol and on the left side what appear to be the traces of a crescent symbol with a pair of pincers below.

Park in the 'Public slipway' car park. The stone is about 20m into the field across the road.

The Shetland Isles — News

Archaeologists Rise to Solstice Circle Discovery

Archaeologists working on a remote Scottish island have discovered an ancient stone ceremonial enclosure that is perfectly aligned to the winter and summer solstices.

The find was made by members of the Bath and Camerton Archaeological Society (Bacas) working on the island of Foula.

The stones were found on the last day of an extensive geophysical survey at an area called Da Heights. The group found stones rising from the ground in a curve which did not look like they were placed naturally.

Extensive research has shown the stones were part of an early Bronze Age ceremonial enclosure. The structure would have been built some time between 3500 and 2000BC.

Jayne Lawes, the director of excavations, said: "This excavation has proved conclusively that the stone enclosure is man made and similar in construction to others of the late Neolithic or early Bronze Age. The actual date of the construction has yet to be proved, though one shard of pottery has been found buried under 60cm of peat on the floor of the enclosure and should help to provide evidence of a date when the site was in use."

John Holbourn, a Bacas member from Wiltshire, said: "The alignment of the stone ring to the midwinter sunrise is of real significance. While in the summer the island is bathed in light throughout most of the day and night, in the winter daylight lasts for only a few hours. The knowledge that the days will lengthen and get warmer is very cheering."

Isobel Holbourn, who owns the land in Foula where the discovery was made, said: "We knew there was something there, and the archaeologists found an egg-shaped circle of stones. It turns out that the winter sunrise goes right up the middle, while the summer solstice rises at right angles to it. The circle is egg shaped, and in the centre they dug a trench and found a paved area and a bit of black pottery in between the stones. This has been sent away to be dated. The team watched the summer solstice sunrise on 21 June. From the middle spot the sun rolls and rises up the side of Ronas Hill - the highest hill on the Shetland mainland."

From an article by Jamie Beatson:

Last updated: 04-Jul-07 00:17 BST

Scotland (Country) — News

Scotland's magical ancient circles leave Stonehenge standing

Scotland's magical ancient circles leave Stonehenge standing

TOURISTS exploring Britain's ancient spiritual heritage are better off visiting Scotland's stone circles than "noisy, overcrowded" Stonehenge, according to research by the National Geographic Traveller. In a survey of the world's best-known heritage sites, the magazine described the famous Megalithic attraction in the south-west of England as a "mess", lacking "charm and magic".

Instead, the magazine recommends the unspoilt stone circles in the north of Scotland which, despite growing visitor numbers, remain unspoiled by noise and intrusion. The researchers' verdict on Stonehenge said: "What a mess! Compelling... over-loved... certainly the current experience lacks magic. Crowd control is a good thing, but over-regulation has made the visitor's experience rather disappointing; charm is gone. Good interpretation and so impressive... but you can get a similar impact from lots of other stone circles, especially up north in Scotland, without all the noise and intrusion."

Last night, Scottish tourism bosses seized on the comments, claiming that the protected Neolithic monuments of Orkney, maintained an "awe-inspiring" feel which other world heritage sites had long lost. The islands' 5,500-year-old prehistoric heartland, which was granted World Heritage status by UNESCO in 1999, includes some of the best-preserved archaeological sites in Europe. These include the Ring of Brodgar - a massive ceremonial enclosure and stone circles, and the nearby Standing Stones of Stenness, Barnhouse Village and the tomb of Maeshowe.

Carly Simpson, the marketing executive of VisitOrkney, said: "Although the site is visited by thousands of people each year, the stone circles still maintain a magical, untouched charm, which, sadly, some other World Heritage Sites have lost due to high visitor numbers."

Researchers at the National Geographic Traveller surveyed 94 World Heritage Sites, as varied as the Jurassic Coast of Dorset, the Pyramids of Giza and the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador. The city of Bath rated 78 points, putting it seventh in the overall list. Stonehenge scored only 56 points out of 100, better than the lowest mark - 39 for Kathmandu Valley - but well short of Norway's West Fjords on 87 points.

A spokeswoman for English Heritage said yesterday : "The site has lost some of its magic, but the fact that it is the only UK World Heritage Site to have been nominated as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World is testimony to its universal and enduring appeal."

A spokeswoman for Historic Scotland said: "We are delighted the survey of World Heritage Sites recognises the importance of Scotland's stone circles." The Heart of Neolithic Orkney and its stone circles is one of four World Heritage Sites in Scotland - the others are the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh, New Lanark and the island of St Kilda, all recognised for cultural and natural significance.

ORKNEY'S stone circles are Britain's best-preserved ritual centre, reflecting the workings of a prehistoric civilisation unspoilt by urban and industrial development. The site includes a series of related monuments which fall into two complexes some 6km apart.

The Ring of Brodgar comprises a massive ceremonial enclosure and stone circles, dating from between 2500 and 2000BC. Around it are at least 13 prehistoric burial mounds and a stone setting.

Close by are the Standing Stones of Stenness, Barnhouse Village and the tomb of Maeshowe - one of the finest architectural achievements of prehistory.

Heatwave reveals Scotland's past

A heatwave has revealed fleeting traces of early settlements to historians taking a bird's eye view of Scotland. The conditions this summer have proved ideal for aerial archaeologists who document the buried sites, which appear in ripening crops or scorched grass. The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland said it was one of the best in its 30 years.

Discoveries have included various prehistoric settlements and much more detail at two major Roman forts. Dave Cowley, the aerial survey manager at the RCAHMS, said the findings, across the Scottish lowlands, were significant and helped build a picture of where people had lived. "We've been finding archaeological sites that haven't been productive in the past and that's because of the extreme conditions," he said.

Crops that lie directly above buried features ripen at a different rate from the rest of the field when it is dry, producing "crop marks". Similar markings also form in grass as it parches in the sun.

Mr Cowley said: "Bits of the Borders, some of the Cheviot foothills, parts of Fife and the Moray Plain have produced previously unknown sites. Town Yetholm through to Morebattle have been producing material, which is parched out in grass. We have seen various types of prehistoric settlements usually as circular or rectangular enclosures and burial sites."

According to Mr Cowley, the aerial archaeologists have also been able to see patterns across the whole expanse of the Roman forts at Newstead in the Borders and Carpow in Fife. This has helped to build on the knowledge gained from small, detailed excavations.

"The sites that have been absolutely spectacular visually are two of our Roman forts," he said. "Newstead Roman Fort has shown better this year than it's shown since the 1940s. The line of the fort wall, the ditches and even details like the towers on either side of one of the gateways can be seen. You can also see the arrangement of all the internal roads inside the fort, the possible positions of bread ovens and other internal features. And at Carpow you're seeing raised pits and internal features."

The RCAHMS aerial survey has undertaken about 1,000 flights, using a four-seater Cessna aircraft from its base in Edinburgh, and it has produced more than 100,000 images of the country since 1976. The pictures have significantly improved the historical information about areas where thousands of years of agriculture have levelled and hidden the remains of earlier settlements. The information can also prove crucial to planners when considering sites for new developments such as housing or major pipe routes.

Carlungie (Souterrain) — Links


Aerial photo.

Ardestie (Souterrain) — Links


Aerial photo.

Drumsturdy / Laws (Souterrain) — Links


The broch's outline is quite distinct in this aerial photo.

Tealing (Souterrain) — Links


Aerial photo.

Balkemback (Stone Circle) — Links


Aerial photo.

Balgarthno (Stone Circle) — Links


Aerial photo.

Market Knowe (Cairn(s)) — Links


Aerial photo.

Skeith Stone (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Images

<b>Skeith Stone</b>Posted by nickbrand

Norrie's Law (Cairn(s)) — Images

<b>Norrie's Law</b>Posted by nickbrand<b>Norrie's Law</b>Posted by nickbrand<b>Norrie's Law</b>Posted by nickbrand

Skeith Stone (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Images

<b>Skeith Stone</b>Posted by nickbrand<b>Skeith Stone</b>Posted by nickbrand

Cultoquhey (Chambered Cairn) — Fieldnotes

Accessed via the drive to Cultoquhey Hotel, this one took a bit of finding. The owners are Italian, and seem to cater exclusively for Italian guests to Scotland. They seemed interested however, and especially so when after they referred to it as "The Roman Stones" I took great delight in pointing out that these were ancient when the original Romans paid their brief visit to Scotland!

There's not much to see, and I didn't attempt any photographs. There's definitely a slight mound present, but it's so overgrown with trees, ferns, nettles, moss and bl**dy rhododendrons that access is limited and viewing anything is next to impossible.

This one would really benefit from a proper archaeological survey, stripping all the undergrowth (and overgrowth!) away.

Strowan Cairn (Cairn(s)) — Fieldnotes

This one was a bit of a drive-by as I was in a hurry to head for another site. It'll keep for a return visit when hopefully I can access the field and have a better look around.

Strowan Cairn (Cairn(s)) — Images

<b>Strowan Cairn</b>Posted by nickbrand<b>Strowan Cairn</b>Posted by nickbrand

Rottenreoch (Long Cairn) — Images

<b>Rottenreoch</b>Posted by nickbrand<b>Rottenreoch</b>Posted by nickbrand

Rottenreoch (Long Cairn) — Fieldnotes

Couldn't actually reach this today as the field's in crop at present. Made do with a couple of pictures from a nearby slope, and will have to come back in the winter. Looks to be about 150 feet long, fairly low, and with two great oak trees growing from it.

Fowlis Wester Cairn (Cairn(s)) — Fieldnotes

As BigSweetie has said, there's a lot going on here. Many of the stones are field clearance, but the cist covers and several recumbent stones (along with the single upright remaining) show that there was a veritable hive of neolithic activity here at one time.

According to a local lady I spoke to, the land belongs to the Abercairney Estate and was at one time used as a burial ground. The estate has been held by the Moray family since the end of the 13th century.

Fowlis Wester Cairn (Cairn(s)) — Images

<b>Fowlis Wester Cairn</b>Posted by nickbrand<b>Fowlis Wester Cairn</b>Posted by nickbrand<b>Fowlis Wester Cairn</b>Posted by nickbrand<b>Fowlis Wester Cairn</b>Posted by nickbrand<b>Fowlis Wester Cairn</b>Posted by nickbrand

Concraig (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Fieldnotes

The field was in crop today so had to make do with what can be seen from the side of the field. Easy enough to access, as the farmer was quite happy to point out the route through one field to the next, in which the stone stands. About 2m tall, but with quite a pronounced lean.

Concraig (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Images

<b>Concraig</b>Posted by nickbrand
Showing 1-50 of 1,282 posts. Most recent first | Next 50
I work offshore in the North Sea as a rig medic. 55+ years old. Nationalist to the core. Have been interested in ancient sites as long as I can remember, due to my Dad's interest in history. Traced my ancestry back to the 1650's. Run a website about the little Fife town I was born and brought up in, Burntisland. Run a website on Stone Circles in Angus and Perthshire. Learning Gaelic, but not very fluent so far. Spend a lot of time walking in the hills. Member of the Scottish Megaraks. Sanity often questioned....

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