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

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Crieff (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Images

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Julian Cope: He Dresses as a Nazi so that you don't have to

Peter Ross meets the former Teardrop Explodes frontman on the eve of his appearance at the Burns An' A' That festival

On January 1, 2005, Julian Cope took hallucinogenic drugs for the first time in several years. Three months later he started dressing as a Nazi. Fourteen months after that, on a melting day in early May, he strolls down the path from his home, his raised hand meant as a cheery greeting rather than a fascist salute. "Hello," he beams. "Good to see you."

The former lead singer with The Teardrop Explodes is 48 years old and over six feet tall, his height exaggerated by clomping black boots and a peaked military cap; he looms above the flat fields, half scarecrow, half raven. Straw-coloured hair hangs down to nipple level, almost but not quite obscuring the Iron Cross pinned to his leather waistcoat; it is embossed with a swastika and a date – 1939.

He leads the way back to his home, a converted stables, stopping to chat with the postman and to talk about garden furniture with his new neighbours. Were it not for the fact that Cope is dressed for the invasion of Poland, this could be a scene from village life in any part of the beautiful south. An expert on ancient Britain (his book on the subject, The Modern Antiquarian, sold more than 40,000 copies in hardback) he lives with his American wife, Dorian, and their daughters in Wiltshire, a part of England rich in important neolithic sites. From his bedroom window, Cope can see Silbury, a gigantic hill built of chalk 5000 years ago; he says he feels connected to this mysterious mound, and well he might – nobody knows exactly why Silbury was made, and he, too, has suffered from public mystification.

Former pop stars are supposed to demean themselves on reality TV then rerelease their biggest hit in the desperate hope of a last creaky appearance on Top Of The Pops. That's a behavioural pattern we understand. But Cope hasn't conformed to it. Instead he has become some kind of weird heathen archaeologist who calls himself a shaman and an "erudite barbarian". So as with Silbury, we find ourselves asking: what is Julian Cope for?

Over a cup of tea in his kitchen, he sets out to explain. First, the outfit. He is dressed, he insists, as "a cartoon Nazi" rather than a real one. The other day he was with his friend Merrick, a road protestor, drinking beer at the childhood home of DH Lawrence, where Cope is working on his debut novel. "Merrick was saying that the reason he could accept the way I looked was that it's so beyond what is socially acceptable ... What's funny for me is when, say, I am filling up at a petrol station on the M4. I get out of the car, and it's almost as if I am invisible because it's so ridiculously over the top."

Nobody says anything because they assume he can't possibly be serious, can't really be anti-semitic? "Exactly. Who would be that extreme?"

The Nazi look began as a way of winding up a neighbour, who has long been unhappy with his presence in the village. But it has grown in significance, and now represents both Cope's refusal to accept a dull middle age ("You don't have to be an old tosser") and his general love of confrontation. He was bullied as a child growing up in the Midlands, but when he was 12, he bested the class bully by throwing his arms around his neck and kissing him; in that moment he discovered that in weirdness there could be strength, a tactic which has characterised his entire career. On the wall next to the downstairs loo, a commemorative disc marks 250,000 sales of the 1981 single Reward. The Teardrop Explodes were part of the post-punk Liverpool scene. At one point it looked as if they might become one of the biggest acts of the era, but they split acrimoniously and druggily in 1982.

As a solo artist, Cope continued to make music with mixed commercial success. He released two massively acclaimed records in the early 1990s – Peggy Suicide and Jehovahkill – but his label dropped him. Since then he has recorded for his own imprint, Head Heritage, and distributed albums via his website. His music is increasingly out there, but some of it is brilliant.

His most recent album, Dark Orgasm, is a heavy rock record dedicated to freedom and equality for women (he recently played a gig in Belgium wearing a burka). It is also an attack on organised religion, which is why the album artwork bears the slogan F*** The Pope. It will be interesting to see how that goes down in the west of Scotland when he performs at the Burns An A' That festival.

Dark Orgasm includes a song called I Found A New Way To Love Her, featuring the lyric "Just like Ken Bigley/I'm losing my head on account of you", a reference to the civil engineer who was kidnapped and beheaded by an Islamist group in Baghdad in 2004.

"I was really shocked by it," Cope says of his song. "But I think art should be shocking. The artist has to be shocking even to himself." Isn't that lyric cruel, though? "Very cruel. But that was part of it. There was an element about the Ken Bigley thing that meant it had to be cruel. That guy lost his head, and it wasn't a clean cut either. It was a disgusting way to die. But I have to say for all that I am anti-religion, I have far more respect for Islam than for Christianity because I know where I stand with Islam. To me, a religion is good if you are fearful of it."

He continues in this vein for a while then returns to his initial point. "For me, as an artist, I think I have to go to those places ... My job is to be constantly beating the bounds, to see how far we can go. Every so often – boom! – something will explode in my face, and I will have gone too far."

Is that what happened with the Ken Bigley line? "No, I don't think so, because I think it summed up what the 21st century is about. Do you think I went too far?"

I suggest it may have been hurtful to people who knew Bigley to exploit his name as a simile. He mulls this over. "I think, really, everything is funny," he says. "If I was taken and dismembered and torn apart, I would expect people to make a joke about it, I really would. There's always been a part of me that semi-expects that."

That expects to be dismembered? "Yeah. I'm an extreme artist."

He turns down a conversational side road, reminiscing about the time he was in Armenia, then rejoins the main route of our discussion. "The most shocking lyric that I ever heard was when the Sex Pistols did Bodies. It was an anti-abortion song, and they did it just after my girlfriend had an abortion. It was so weird. The idea of the Sex Pistols doing a song like that was so unlikely that to me it made them so real. The song was pointing at me because I was the guy who just facilitated the abortion. I was 19 and would have thought Johnny Rotten was on my side, but he wasn't. That summed it up for me. The truth is aiming for something that is beyond what's acceptable."

I ask about his daughters, Albany and Avalon, who are 14 and 12. They don't listen to his music, he says, and they find it a little weird when the parents of their friends are aware of who he is. "It sometimes puts me in a little of an invidious position. My youngest one, I met her best friend's mother, who had been to see me in Oxford. She said, 'I'd never seen you solo before. I didn't realise you were into self-mutilation.' I suddenly felt very compromised on a dad level that her daughter was coming round to the house of this potentially mad father."

Self-mutiliation? There was an infamous incident at a concert in 1984 when Cope – frustrated by his own performance – shredded his stomach with the jagged end of a broken mic-stand. He still cuts himself on stage. "I believe rock'n'roll should have some blood ritual in it. But it's impractical to do it too much. It's just messy. So I do it as early in the tour as I can, and get it out of the way ... Some people find it very gross and gruelling."

He gets up from the kitchen table, walks to the door and points Silbury out for me. Through his exploration of ancient sites, Cope has become known as an outdoorsman, which is ironic given that for much of the 1980s he was semi-agoraphobic. He and Dorian holed up in Drayton Bassett behind a barricaded door and covered windows; he became obsessed with Dinky cars, and converted a bedroom into a toy room which could be entered only via a secret tunnel.

What made him like that, so insular? "LSD," he replies. "It gives you such a wonderful inner life that your outer life becomes totally unnecessary."

He first got high as a member of The Teardrop Explodes (his memoir of the period, Head-On, ought to be subtitled How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bong) and soon discovered a love of acid trips. He stopped taking hallucinogens before the birth of Albany, but started again as part of his research for a forthcoming book on prehistoric drug use. He spends whole days tripping on the Marlborough Downs.

"I think I must be neurologically tough and have a neurologically tough family background," he says, "because I know people who have taken a quarter of what I have taken and utterly f***ed themselves up. So I think there's an element of luck involved.

"My mother-in-law, who is one of my main researchers, one of my muses, did say to me in 1985, 'You must stop two years before you aim to have kids.' She had talked to this psychedelic doctor in San Francisco called Dr Billy ... So when I went back into the psychedelics, I got in touch with my mother-in-law. There's always a dialogue."

Cope has been married to Dorian for 22 years. They got together in 1981 when she and a friend came to a show in Albany in upstate New York. "She's so important," he says. "I wouldn't have done anything without her. She is the most mysterious woman I have ever met … I have to petition her: 'I've got this idea, what do you think?' We'll sit down and discuss things long and hard. She is the ultimate editor for me … She'll tell me whether something is going to be misunderstood, and I trust her."

During their discussions, Cope and his wife refer to "Julian Cope" in the third person as a public entity distinct from Julian the husband and father. So is there a difference? "Definitely, yeah. I was invited to the House of Lords about three weeks ago for some bill on animal rights that I've been working on. I was actually really excited about the idea of going to the House of Lords, and Dorian said, 'Yeah, but Julian Cope wouldn't be excited.' I was like, 'Hey, you're right!' So I didn't go. Because he wouldn't have gone."

He has the good grace to laugh at the ridiculousness of this, but it does strike to the heart of where he is at right now. He is the archetypal square peg, the pigeon who spurns holes, and his has been a 25-year journey from the margins to the mainstream and back. He is dedicated to rock'n'roll, sacred rocks and role-playing, and he would tell you that is no coincidence that he shares his initials with Jesus Christ. Julian Cope is willing to be freaky for the sake of a straight society that just doesn't have the time; it's an act of redemption not rebellion.

"I do it," he grins, "on the behalf of people who are too busy paying the bills."

Julian Cope performs at the Festival Club, Ayr, on Saturday, as part of the Burns An A' That festival, see

21 May 2006

Corrimony (Clava Cairn) — Images

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East Lothian — News

Intact prehistoric remains found in East Lothian

A double grave site from the late Iron Age has been unearthed in Dunbar, East Lothian. One of the grave sites is thought to be that of a warrior as an iron spearhead, sword and possible pin were also found with the remains. The substantial and well-preserved grave was identified with the remains of two individuals. The earliest or primary burial had been moved from its original position to accommodate the second or later burial.

Places for People, who are developing the land for residential use, commissioned AOC Archaeology to conduct the investigation of the burial ground. Alister Steele, Managing Director of Castle Rock Edinvar (a subsidiary of Places for People), who are developing the site said: "Discovering a find like this is an exciting prospect in any new development and proves the necessity of securing our historical heritage by ensuring that land we develop has been scoped by expert archaeologists."

Previous archaeological investigations in Dunbar have revealed medieval remains and, although the origins of Dunbar are known to extend back to the late prehistoric and early historic period, it was assumed that medieval remains would also be found during this investigation - hence the investigation organised by Places for People.

Biddy Simpson, the East Lothian Council Heritage Officer said: "This is an extraordinary and exceptional find. Although similar multiple burials have been found in the vicinity of Dunbar this burial was of very high quality and is the first one to be excavated using modern archaeological techniques. The quality of the grave construction and the items within the grave strongly suggest that it was a high status burial, the finding of which is incredibly important.".

The site has now been fully excavated and the remains are to be analysed by specialists. Also discovered during the investigation were a number of late medieval remains, including a well.,1094,4274,00.html

Exceptional find' of Iron Age warrior

THE remains of an Iron Age warrior have been found in Dunbar – only the third grave of its kind in Scotland. Archaeologists were called to the old Empire Cinema site, off the High Street, which is currently being developed into flats. The well-preserved grave contains the remains of a warrior as well as an iron spearhead, sword and what is believed to be a pin. Archaeologists believe an earlier burial had been moved from its original position to accommodate the warrior before being put back, to create a double burial.

East Lothian Council heritage officer Biddy Simpson described the find as "extraordinary and exceptional". "Although similar multiple burials have been found in the vicinity of Dunbar, this burial was of very high quality and is the first one to be excavated using modern archaeological techniques. The quality of the grave construction and the items within the grave strongly suggest that it was a high status burial, the finding of which is incredibly important," she said.

Staff from Loanhead-based AOC Archaeology were drafted in to work on the site. Project officer Mike Roy said it was an extremely unusual site and unlike anything he had previously excavated. He added that the findings suggested the occupants were of "considerable status".

Ronan Toolis, senior project officer with AOC Archaeology, explained that the two other Iron Age warrior graves had been excavated in Alloway and Camelon, near Falkirk. "The Dunbar site is a real treasure trove," he said. "It is rare for a prehistoric burial to be found in a town like this."

The area has now been fully excavated and the remains will be analysed by specialists. Mr Toolis added that they would know more once DNA analysis and carbon dating of the bones were carried out. It may also be possible to establish the area from which the warrior came, by analysing his teeth. Dental tests could reveal traces of chemicals which had been present in the water he drank at that time, which would in turn point to a certain geographical location.

A late medieval well was also discovered during the excavation.

Gordon Easingwood, from Dunbar Local History Society said that the warrior grave was "obviously a significant find" and that he would be interested to find out more once the tests were completed. During the 1980s, the remains of an Iron Age promontory fort were discovered during excavations in the town. It is believed that this helped to date the origins of Dunbar to at least the 1st-4th centuries AD.

Clava Cairns — Images

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Aberdeenshire — News

Historians lay siege to secrets of hill forts and sheilings

Archaeologists are turning their attention to one of Scotland's most historically overlooked areas by scheduling scores of ancient and modern sites dating from 4000BC to the cold war era. Hill forts, castles, sheilings, standing stones, hut circles, churches, lime kilns and pillboxes were the focus of the first major scheduling drive in the north of Scotland by heritage experts from Historic Scotland. The teams of historians and ancient monument inspectors are keen to shed light on the historical richness of Aberdeenshire, an area previously overlooked during efforts to protect important sites.

Dr Gordon Barclay, principal inspector of ancient monuments with Historic Scotland, said the new scheduling campaign was a productive way of mapping the nation's past. He said: "This is the first time we have tried out this area-based approach to scheduling. We take a group of parishes and look at everything within it of historical interest. Previously, it has been up to the efforts of individual inspectors and was not very co-ordinated, with areas getting more scheduling than others." He added: "This is a more consistent approach looking at one area after another. We have around 200 candidate sites in the area and about one half or two-thirds of these will eventually be scheduled."

Inspectors have been in Strathdon and Alford carrying out the scheduling assessments on a large number of archaeological sites. Historic Scotland said the mammoth exercise was an essential part of protecting and understanding the past. If the sites visited are judged to be of national importance, they will then be scheduled as ancient monuments and will be protected under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.
The teams will schedule a number of important sites including Asloun Castle, near Alford, a sixteenth-century towerhouse, following their visit. They are also likely to schedule a prehistoric site on Deskrey Hill, east of Strathdon, which has hut circles and contains evidence of some of the earliest farming in Scotland. A second world war pillbox near Huntly and a deserted medieval township, near Upperton, will also be scheduled.

Generations of hunters, herdsmen, farmers and foresters helped shape the landscape in the north-east. Traces of their houses, farms, religious sites or burial monuments litter the landscape beside more recent features such as castles, industrial sites, churches or military installations. The first farmers in the area also introduced pottery and polished stone axes. Their descendants made use of the deposits of flint near the coast at Boddam, south of Peterhead.

An Aberdeenshire Council spokesman said there were a great number of historical sites that they were keen to protect. "We welcome this week's visit by Historic Scotland to view nearly 200 sites as part of the organisation's scheduling assessments," he said, "These are done on an ongoing basis, but this week's programme involves a major concentration of Aberdeenshire sites. We have highlighted a number of locations which we feel are unique to the area. Our archaeology team is guiding the visitors around sites ranging from the neolithic age, right up to the last world war."

Dr Barclay said the project had already been a resounding success and would be taken to other parts of the country. "We will be up in the area around Inverness next," he said, "We will look at everything which is legally able to be scheduled. Six teams of two inspectors look at the sites to get an idea of what is left there."

Scheduled ancient monuments are sites, buildings and other features of artificial construction protected by the Scottish ministers under the terms of the 1979 act. There are more than 7500 in Scotland. They include an extraordinary range of monuments including prehistoric chambered tombs, stone circles, Roman forts and ruined castles.

Bandrum (Standing Stones) — Images

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Bandrum (Standing Stones) — Fieldnotes

Easy enough to find - ask at the Saline Golf Club - "See the trees up there? There's a dyke under them, follow it right then left, stone's at the end." They apparently get a few people a year asking about it.

I wonder if they felt as depressed as I did when I got there. Great situation, if it hadn't been misty the views would have been stupendous. But what a way to treat a stone...

It's the first one I've ever seen with its very own corrugated shed extension. Trust me, the pictures don't show the full horror. It's also wrapped up in barbed wire, presumably to stop an escape if it was so inclined.

The area's known as Temple, but no known Hospitaller or Templar connections as far as I'm aware, so it probably refers to 'druidical remains'. The stone is pretty big, but there are a couple of lumps of stone nearby which look suspiciously as if they might have been companions at one time or another. One of them's built into the dyke now, and looks happier than its big pal...

Balholmie (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Images

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Balholmie (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Fieldnotes

I called here today to photograph the Pictish symbol stone built into a rockery at the house. Spoke to the lady there and was told there was another stone there too. Different bit of the garden, bit it was OK to go and take a look. I'm glad I did.

I don't think this stone is in its original position, it's too well landscaped. Think it may well have been acquired at the same time the Pictish stone was removed from Whitefield Farm. But it is a standing stone, as the three well-defined cup marks point out. A nice surprise as I don't see any reference to it in Canmore. The lady of the house didn't know where it had come from, unfortunately.

Brownies Knowe (Stone Circle) — Images

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Brownies Knowe (Stone Circle) — Fieldnotes

Not too hard to find. Park below the kirk at St Martins and take the left of the three tracks ahead of you. About quarter of a mile in you pass the gate to the Abbey on the right, then another field gate on the right. About a hundred yards past this on the left a gently sloping track leads down to an old stone bridge. Cross and follow the path up to the left, then cross to the fence and follow it to the right. After a couple of right hand turns following this you'll see a wee clearing - and there's the circle.

Pretty disrupted, about 6 stones of a possible ten left, and all recumbent. Nice atmosphere though, and there's a bonus - a cup marked rock about 50 feet SW of the circle.

Worth a look!

St Martins (Standing Stones) — Images

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St Martins (Standing Stones) — Fieldnotes

These stones are just lying at the side of the track. Canmore has the north stone standing erect but it looked pretty toppled to me. Not a very inspiring site I'm afraid. The Witch's Stone is just up the road a bit, and a couple of deer ran out across the field as I took the photos.

Williamston (Cairn(s)) — Images

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Williamston (Cairn(s)) — Fieldnotes

Close by to the site of an old stone circle (now vanished), this appears marked on old maps as "Stone Cists found". It was rather a damp day and the field had just been ploughed so contented myself with a long range shot. A lot of stones round the base (field clearance?) so will definitely have a look at this one again.

Blackfaulds Stone Circle — Images

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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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