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Rotten Bottom


17/05/2022 & 02/06/2022 – The Quest for the Rotten Bottom Bow

We were tired by the time we reached Rotten Bottom. We made our way over to Games Castle, a large outcrop there with a fine view, a perfect place to sit and have our sandwiches. Starting from Grey Mare’s Tail, a slow plod up to Loch Skeen then Lochcraig Head, across to White Coomb to look at the two small cairns and then a nice walk to here, Rotten Bottom on the way to Saddle Yoke. It’s a good day and this in-between place was quiet.

After a much needed rest it was time to carry on across Rotten Bottom. It’s such a good name for this place, a large flat area above the steep drop down to Carrrifran Burn. After a short distance we gave up trying to keep the boots dry, the ground was so soft and very wet. Not a good place to walk but it was here in 1990, at the base of a peat hag (about 660m) that the Rotten Bottom Bow was found.

The flat bow was found broken but still 1.36m in length (original length 1.74m). Radiocarbon dated to 4040–3640 BC, placing it in the Early Neolithic and at 6000 years the oldest bow found in Britain and Ireland. Made from yew, not local as yew didn’t grow round this area at the time. How such a fine bow ended up here in this out of the way place is anyone’s guess. Someone out hunting and discarded it when it broke maybe.

We talked about the bow and who it might have belonged to as we walked. It was not long until we had made up our minds to seek out this bow, the Quest for the Rotten Bottom Bow had begun.

We were staying in Moffat that week so a few days later popped by the small Moffat Museum. The re-opening of the Museum in 2013 took place by shooting a replica of the Rotten Bottom Bow. It’s nice inside with interesting history about the Moffat area. There is a fine replica of the bow too. We learnt that the original was now in the National Museum of Scotland.

The week after we were back home from Moffat and with a long weekend coming up, we decided to continue our quest and head for Edinburgh. Last minute hotels were a bit pricey in the capital so we went for Stirling as a base instead (never been to the castle there before so that was a bonus). Thursday morning, 16 days after our walk to Rotten Bottom, we were on the early train to Edinburgh. The National Museum of Scotland really is a wonderful place, busy but worth putting up with all the people just to see all the amazing stuff. I like the Pre-history section. It’s kind of tucked away at the side, down a flight of stairs. Also one of the quieter areas in the Museum. I’d been here before but didn’t remember the bow. Making our way past objects I normally would have stopped by and looked at, we continued on, it’s a bit of a maze down there, but the end of our quest felt close. Soon I spotted arrow heads in a display case, rounding a corner, there it was. Tucked away at the back with little fanfare was the oldest found bow in Britain and Ireland. It deserved more but I liked it’s low key style, find me but only if you want to. At first the bow seems nothing much to look at but I was really taken with it. It was quite narrow and elegant. There is a seat nearby so we sat and gazed across, catching our breath. It was a warm day outside, it felt good to rest in the dark and cooler place. Maybe we had walked a bit quicker than normal to get here. The excitement getting to us. Such a good adventure and just great to see the bow after our trip to Rotten Bottom a few weeks back.

Our quest to find the Rotten Bottom Bow had come to a successful end, it was time to go find a coffee and bit of cake to celebrate.
thelonious Posted by thelonious
5th June 2022ce
Edited 5th June 2022ce

Comments (3)

Great stuff, neatly concluded for you, satisfyingly so. I like that type of adventure. ryaner Posted by ryaner
5th June 2022ce
It was a good couple of days out and about :-) thelonious Posted by thelonious
6th June 2022ce
I do like it when we follow the trail through to it's logical conclusion. postman Posted by postman
22nd June 2022ce
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