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Kilmartin Area

Argyll's Kilmartin museum gets lottery boost

Kilmartin Museum in Argyll is one step closer to a multi-million pound refurbishment.

The Heritage Lottery fund has endorsed an application for a £3.1m grant - as well as awarding £400,000 to develop the plans further.

The museum is located in the Kilmartin glen, one of Scotland's most important prehistoric landscapes.
It currently cares for some of the oldest artefacts in the UK - some dating back to 3,500 BC.

There are 800 known prehistoric and historic monuments within 10 miles of the museum, including the world's largest prehistoric cup and ring-marked rock and Dunadd Fort, citadel of the Kings of the Scotti tribe from whom Scotland got its name.

The museum - which opened in 1997 - collects and curates almost all of the archaeology in Argyll but it requires a major upgrade.

The announcement of a first-round pass means they are a step closer to a £3.1m lottery grant, which will allow them to redevelop the museum and increase the number of visitors.

They have been given £400,000 to develop the plans further.

The redesign and expansion of the museum will include a new exhibition gallery displaying never-before-seen prehistoric objects and an additional gallery for use by local artists and to showcase temporary exhibitions.

The addition of modern and attractive visitor services is seen as vital to Argyll's tourism sector.
The museum hopes to have the new facilities in place by 2020.

Gordon Gray Stephens, chair of Kilmartin Museum Trust, said: "We're really pleased to have the support of HLF for our proposals.

"The Kilmartin Glen landscape is a gem that more people from Scotland and further afield will now be able to discover. We believe that the redevelopment will also create cultural and economic opportunities for Argyll."

The Cochno Stone (Cup and Ring Marks / Rock Art)

5000-year-old Cochno Stone carving may be revealed

A set of mysterious, 5,000-year-old rock carvings could see the light of day again, after being buried 50 years ago to protect them from vandals.

The Cochno Stone in West Dunbartonshire bears what is considered to be the finest example of Bronze Age “cup and ring” carvings in Europe.

The stone, which measures 42ft by 26ft, was discovered by the Rev James Harvey in 1887 on farmland near what is now the Faifley housing estate on the edge of Clydebank.

It is covered in about 90 carved indentations, or “cups”, and grooved spirals, along with a ringed cross and a pair of four-toed feet.

Because of the array of markings on it, the Cochno Stone has been recognised as being of national importance and designated as a scheduled monument.

In 1964, Glasgow University archaeologists recommended it should be buried under several feet of soil to protect the carvings from further damage by vandals. The stone has been covered ever since.

Straddling the garden of a private property and parkland owned by the local council, it is now covered by vegetation and surrounded by trees.

In his book The Prehistoric Rock Art of Southern Scotland, archaeologist Ronald Morris, an expert in ancient rock carvings, described the stone as “one of Scotland finest collections of petroglyphs”.

History researcher Alexander McCallum, who has lobbied to have the stone uncovered, said there were multiple interpretations for the carvings.

He said: “Some people think that the Cochno Stone is a map showing the other settlements in the Clyde Valley – that’s one of the theories. I think it was probably used for lots of things; it was never used for just one thing and over hundreds of years it changed use.

“As far as the symbolism goes, some believe it’s a portal, of life and death, rebirth, a womb and a tomb – people believed in reincarnation, so they would go into the earth and then come out again.”

He said it was also possible the stone had been used in sacrificial ceremonials, with milk or water poured into the grooves and channels as offerings, or that the markings were astronomical maps, showing constellations that guided prehistoric farmers’ crop sewing.

Mr McCallum said similar carvings had been found around the world, including in Hawaii, India and Africa, while in Scotland they tended to be found along the west coast near the sea or rivers, often close to copper mines.

Changes in the options available to heritage bodies for the conservation of ancient sites and a shift in the attitude towards how they should be treated have led to the possibility of the Cochno Stone being uncovered.

A spokeswoman for West Dunbartonshire Council said it would “seek professional advice on the implications of uncovering the area”, adding: “Our priority is to ensure this renowned site is preserved and protected in a sustainable way.”

A spokeswoman for Historic Scotland said: “We have had no recent approaches with specific proposals.

“In the 50 years since it was covered over, there have been significant advances in recording techniques and our understanding of conservation, and we would be happy to support any considered and adequately resourced proposals to uncover it, in conjunction with the local authority and the landowner.”

The stone was featured in Scots film maker May Miles Thomas’ critically acclaimed feature The Devil’s Plantation, which traces ancient landmarks that link modern Glasgow to its prehistoric past. The film was based on 1980s archaeologist Harry Bell’s book Hidden Geometry, which includes the carvings in its history of the city and its surrounding landscape.


On the trail of ancient Slavs

Interesting article in The Moscow News about burial mounds. "Only" 1000 years old, but there seem to be a lot of parallels with the kind of older mounds we're more used to.

There's also a video here.

Perth and Kinross

Dunning Iron Age find shows Roman-Pictish link

Iron Age dwelling remains uncovered in Perthshire could cast "new light" on early Scottish history.

Archaeologists working near the village of Dunning found an Iron Age broch which has evidence of early contact between the Picts and the Roman Empire.

The broch - a drystone wall structure - is the first of its kind to be found in the Scottish lowlands for 100 years.

Evidence shows that the Roman dwelling was destroyed by fire and then probably reoccupied by a Pictish warlord.

It was uncovered by a team from the Strathearn Environs and Royal Forteviot (Serf) project.

Pictish power
Brochs were the preferred residence of the elite during Roman times. The team said the "exquisitely preserved" Dunning example was built at the top of a hill and offers a 360-degree views of the surrounding countryside.

It was also "massively fortified" with 5m (16.4ft) thick drystone walls.

It appears to have been destroyed by fire before the Picts built a palisaded fortress directly on top of the site.

Professor Stephen Driscoll, director of the Serf project, said: "There can be no doubt that we have located one of the major centres of Pictish power from the 1st and 2nd Centuries.

"The scale of the architecture is colossal and the tower-like structure would have visually dominated its surroundings."

'First contact'
A wide range of Roman trade goods have been discovered in the broch, including a bronze patera, a glass vessel and an unusual lead bowl.

The Professor of Historical Archaeology at the University of Glasgow said it was "not unreasonable" to conclude the broch was the seat of a Celtic chieftain who collected luxury objects from the Roman world.

He added: "The artefacts are of particular interest as they date to the time of the first contact with the Roman world and offer numerous clues to how the Picts might have begun their interactions with the Roman Empire."

Serf archaeologists believe the broch is the best example of an Iron Age Roman site being reoccupied by the Picts.

The excavation was directed by Dr Heather James, from Northlight Heritage, one of Serf's partner organisations.

Major sponsorship for the project comes from the University of Glasgow, Historic Scotland, the British Academy and the Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust.

From the BBC

Stone of Mannan (Standing Stone / Menhir)

£160K stone repair

From today's Daily Record:

"A giant stone penis is to be repaired at a cost of more than £160,000. Work starts today on the crumbling 2500-year-old Mannan Stone, which stands on a plinth in the centre of Clackmannan."

Perth and Kinross

Perthshire Archaeology Month 27 May - 25 June 2006

the events for Perthshire Archaeology Month have just been announced, running from 27 May - 25 June 2006

some megalithic highlights:

The Cleaven Dyke, Meikleour: a guided walk
Monday, 29th May and Tuesday 20th June: 1400-1600: Blairgowrie

A guided walk led by archaeologists from PKHT along one of Perthshire's premier archaeological sites. Long thought to be Roman military vallum, the excavation has since proved it to be a "cursus" monument of the Neolithic period, dating to before 3600 BC. The monument, which is over 2 km long and consists of an earthwork bank flanked by ditches, acted as a key ritual site throughout prehistory. Grade of walk: Easy.

Free, but pre-booking essential. To book contact: David Strachan, Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust (01738) 477081.

Dunsinnan Hillfort Guided Walk
Wednesday 31st May and Thursday 22nd June: 1400–1600: Collace

Back by popular demand – a guided walk to one of Perthshire's best preserved hill-forts, with spectacular views over Strathmore and the Tay. Attributed as the Dunsinane of Shakespeare's Macbeth, Dunsinnan has much earlier, prehistoric origins. The walk we will explore all aspects of the archaeology on the hill, from prehistoric cup marked rocks to the idea that the fort may have been occupied during the life of Macbeth and King Duncan. Grade of walk: Moderate.

Free, but pre-booking essential. To book contact: Sarah Winlow, Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust (01738) 477080.

The Archaeology of the Sma' Glen
Thursday 1st June: 1100-1630: The Sma' Glen

Discover the wealth of archaeological sites surviving nestled within one of Perthshire's most dramatic small glens. From the Roman fort of Fendoch and it's watch-tower, to Ossian's stone and the 18th century fermtouns and General Wade's road and bridges. An enlightening afternoon in one of the areas best loved spots. Grade of walk: Moderate.

Charge £5 per head: pre-booking essential. To book contact: David Strachan, Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust (01738) 477081.

Fortingall: Imprints of the Ages
Thursday 1st and Tuesday 13th June: 1000–1230 and 1400-1630: Fortingall

Join members of Breadalbane Heritage Society on a guided walk of Fortingall and its environs, covering everything from prehistoric long barrow and stone circles to the distinctive work of the Arts and Crafts architect, James Maclaren, who created the model village that stands today. The tour will end with the church, which contains an excellent collection of Pitcish stones, amongst other evidence of an early Christian monastic settlement, and the famous yew tree. Grade of walk: Easy.

Free though donations appreciated. Pre-booking is essential. Join the walk for the whole day or for either the morning or afternoon session only. Depending on demand, a mini-bus may run from Kenmore to Fortingall. To book Contact: Gillian Hull, Breadalbane Heritage Society (01887) 840380.

Archaeology around Moulin and Pitlochry
Friday 2nd June: 1000–1300: Moulin/Pitlcohry

A Guided tour by coach and on foot visiting Dunfallandy Pictish Stone, Bronze Age hut circles on Moulin Moor and the Black Castle of Moulin - weather permitting includes walk along part of the old road between Moulin and Strathardle to a prominent cup marked rock. The tour will be led by Isobel Hughes of Moulin and Pitlochry History Circle. Grade of walk: Moderate.

Charge: £5.00 per head for minibus. No dogs allowed. To book contact: Pitlochry Tourist Information Centre (01796) 472215.

Fowlis Wester: Standing Stones, Picts and World War Two
Saturday 3rd June: 1100–1400: Fowlis Wester

People have lived in and around Fowlis Wester since prehistoric times and this walk will explore some of that rich history and the fascinating series of monuments it has left for us. Bring a packed lunch if you want to enjoy the optional afternoon extension to the walk. Grade of walk: Moderate.

Free, but pre-booking essential. To book contact: Mark Hall, Perth Museum (01738) 632488.

Historic Dunning Guided Walk
Saturday 3rd and Saturday 17th June: 1430–1600: Dunning

Join members of Dunning Parish Historical Society for a guided walk around Dunning, beginning at the fountain in Tron Square, and find out more about the archaeology and history in Dunning and the surrounding area. The walk will cover many themes from prehistoric standing stones and Roman camps to St. Serf's church and the Dupplin cross, where there will be an opportunity to be shown around by Historic Scotland staff. Grade of walk: Easy.

Free but pre-booking essential. To book contact: Simon Warren, Dunning Parish Historical Society (01764) 684523.

Woodland Quest: Ancient loch-dwellers, Woods and Wildlife
Sunday 4th, Wednesday 7th, Wednesday 14th, Sunday 18th June and Friday the 23rd June: 1000-1700: Kenmore, Loch Tay

Celebrate Iron Age ingenuity and interaction with the environment. Collect an 'Eye-Spy' pack from the Scottish Crannog Centre and explore the loch-side trail. Spot clues and collect evidence for prize draw entry. Free Grade: Easy.

Free, no booking required. For further details contact: The Scottish Crannog Centre. Kenmore, Loch Tay (01887) 830583.

Blackfaulds and Druid's Wood stone circles
Friday 9th and Friday 16th June: 1430–1630: Guildtown

Come and explore two of Perthshire's less frequented stone circles as a taster for the Stone Circles Trail. Walk leader Mark Hall (Perth Museum and Art Gallery). Grade of walk: Easy.

Free but pre-booking essential. To book contact: Mark Hall, Perth Museum (01738) 632488.

Dundurn Hill
Tuesday 13th June: 1330–1600: St. Fillans

Accompany Countryside Rangers from Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park on a walk up Dundurn hill in St. Fillans. Occupying a craggy knoll, this Iron Age fort became a principal Pictish stronghold. Discover more about its origins, and also St. Faolan, the Celtic missionary who gave the village its most recent name. With great views of Loch Earn from the top, there is also a chance to cure your rheumatism by lying on St. Fillans' Chair! Grade of walk: Moderate/Hard.

Free, but pre-booking essential. To book contact: Linda Winskill, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park (01567) 830430.

Craig Rossie Hillfort Guided Walk
Saturday 17th June: 1400–1700: Auchterarder

A guided walk, led by Mark Hall of Perth Museum, exploring the hillforts of Craig Rossie, with its spectacular views of Strathearn. Free but pre-booking essential. Grade of walk: Moderate/Hard (steep in places).

To book contact: Mark Hall, Perth Museum (01738) 632488.

Barry Hillfort Guided Walk
Saturday 24th June: 1430–1600: Alyth

A guided walk, led by Mark Hall of Perth Museum, up to the heights of Barry Hillfort with its massive defences and commanding views of Strathmore. Grade of walk: Moderate.

Free, but pre-booking essential. To book contact: Mark Hall, Perth Museum (01738) 632488.

Hands On the Past! An Archaeological Activity Day
Saturday 27th May: 1130–1530: Perth

Perth Young Archaeologists' Club and Perth Museum and Art Gallery present a day of fun activities for all the family. Handle prehistoric artefacts, identify bones, try ancient crafts and piece together pottery; even have a go at excavation in our 'dig box'.

Free, but pre-booking for the dig box is essential. To book contact: Perth Museum and Art Gallery (01738) 632488. For more about Perth Young Archaeologists' Club contact: Sarah Winlow (01738) 477080.

Fun with Fibres: The Scottish Crannog Centre
Monday, 29th May: 1100-1600: Kenmore, Loch Tay

This spinning, weaving, and dying gala day is inspired by underwater discoveries of ancient textiles. Try your hand at rope-making, watch weavers at work, make a dye-bath, spin colourful yarns or grasp the nettle to make string. Hands-on fun for all ages.

Normal admissions apply: Adults £4.95. Seniors £4.25 Children £3.25 Families from £14.50 – including tour of the Crannog. Contact: The Scottish Crannog Centre. Kenmore, Loch Tay (01887) 830583.

Come and Try Underwater Archaeology: The Scottish Crannog Centre
Saturday, 3rd June: 1000-1300: Kenmore, Loch Tay

Meet Scotland's 'Underwater Time Team' from the Scottish Crannog Centre and try out scuba and archaeology in the local swimming pool pool for ages 8+. Pre-Booking essential.

Charge: £15 per 45 minute session, meet at the Kenmore Club Resort pool. To book Contact: The Scottish Crannog Centre. Kenmore, Loch Tay (01887) 830583.

South Gloucestershire and Bristol

University of Bristol: Rock Art Weekend 6th & 7th May 2006

From BRITARCH today:

The University of Bristol's Department of Archaeology & Anthropology is
delighted to announce that it will be hosting an entire weekend of rock art
symposia this coming May.

- Saturday May 6: 3rd Bi-Annual Rock Art Symposium at the University of

- Sunday May 7: British Rock Art Group Symposium

More details about both symposia, including how to enrol, can be found by
clicking on this weblink:

The Thornborough Henges

Objections to quarrying at Thornborough henge complex

Heritage campaigners fighting to stop the destruction of the massive Thornborough henge complex this week delivered more than 600 written objections to the planning department of North Yorkshire County Council in Northallerton, northern England.
     The letters - which were delivered in a wheelbarrow - are as a result of a local, national and international campaign being co-ordinated by George Chaplin, the Thornborough Campaign co-ordinator for Heritage Action.

read more....


Scottish film studio plans threaten ancient sites

Plans for a massive film studio and housing development at Aberuthven in Perthshire, Scotland, have placed under threat an area rich in ancient sites. Qullico 100 has submitted plans for the huge complex which will not only impact on local archaeology, but will also dwarf the existing village.

The proposed studio site is bound to the north by the River Earn, and to the south by the village of Aberuthven. In this relatively small area is to be found an extensive complex of prehistoric ceremonial and funerary monuments, suggesting this site was an important ritual centre over thousands of years.

The most visible remains of this complex is a 2 metre high standing stone, known alternately as Haugh of Aberuthven or Belhie, dated to 3000 BCE and standing on the edge of a 22 metre wide enclosure defined by a 2 metre wide ditch, identified as a probable henge. A few metres to the north-east is a penannular ring-ditch of 8 metres diameter, which has been been identified as a possible "mini-henge".

Both these sites have been scheduled by Historic Scotland, and as such will have a protective "buffer zone" around them during any development work. However, while these sites won't be destroyed, their aspect and ambience will be dramatically altered - currently at the centre of a field, the plans will see them hemmed in on all sides by 2 car parks, a golf clubhouse and a hotel.

Also scheduled is the Drumtogle enclosure at the north-east end of the village, which under the proposed plans will end up sandwiched between two busy roads. Amongst the other sites under threat are the remains of a four-poster stone circle, a Class I henge, an enclosed cremation cemetery, a barrow, a probable palisaded homestead, several ring-ditches, pits and enclosures, not to mention numerous crop-marks - linear and scattered - whose significance has yet to be established.

Because many of these sites are sub-surface archaeology or only visible as crop-marks, the potential impact on them from the excavation and construction processes is total destruction.

Following the first application by Qullico 100 in February 2003, local residents set up ACT (Aberuthven Community Threatened). Bill Fyfe of ACT said "The village at present consists of 130 houses and has a population of 300 people. The proposed development is to add 606 houses which would result in approximately 1500 more residents. We felt the need to pool our resources to fight the development and our chosen way of life."

The local authority, Perth & Kinross Council, have so far received over 450 letters of objection to the development. Anyone concerned by the proposed plans and their impact on the local environment should write, expressing those concerns, to:

Mr Ian Sleith
Planning and Development Director
Perth & Kinross Council
35 Kinnoull Street

Letters will be accepted up until the planning meeting in June or July.

Source: Stone Pages - Archaeo News

East Lothian

Discovery of ancient site stuns experts (in East Lothian)

from the Scotsman, 2nd August 2003

Discovery of ancient site stuns experts


PREHISTORIC remains hailed by experts as one of Scotland's most significant archaeological finds in 50 years have been unearthed in the path of a major road development.

Scores of pots, tools and ceremonial items dating back 7000 years have been unearthed where work is being carried out to create a dual-carriageway between Haddington and Dunbar.

Ancient burial sites and neolithic settlements have also been uncovered.

The discovery has stunned experts who say it is one of the biggest and most important finds in recent years.

Archaeologists have yet to analyse the many items uncovered along the 11-mile stretch but are already predicting it will tell them much about early civilisation in the Lothians region.

They say the sheer volume of material confirms the existence of thriving communities which survived on the fertile farmland of East Lothian for thousands of years.

A major conference will be held next month to discuss the results. The £500,000 dig has been funded by Historic Scotland, which says it is "surprised and delighted" at the results of the excavations, carried out by a team of archaeologists from Glasgow University.

Team leader John Atkinson said: "In a rich farming area like East Lothian we expected to find quite a lot, but we were taken aback by the sheer volume of what we discovered. It is absolutely priceless."

Twelve individual sites were uncovered by the team of 30 archaeological staff, who worked up to five months ahead of the army of bulldozers which cleared the way for extra lanes on the A1.

Among the most stunning finds was a burial cairn at Ewford, near Dunbar. A copper alloy pike, used for ceremonial occasions was also found together with funeral urns thought to be 3500 years old. Elsewhere, remains of a prehistoric burial ground were found on Pencraig Hill, overlooking Traprain Law.

But the most exciting and unexpected find was evidence of a previously unknown settlement at Phantassie, near East Linton. The remains of around a dozen buildings and linking pathways constructed entirely of rock were discovered along with hundreds of small pieces of pottery.

Mr Atkinson said they found evidence of both burial and cremation. He said it was also possible their discoveries suggested excarnation - where the bodies of the dead are left for animals to eat and their skeleton later buried - had taken place.

He said dating of the recovered items would tell whether the ancient fort on Traprain Law was built before, or after, the surrounding settlements.

The discoveries also supported the theory that a clear class system existed in prehistoric times.

"We found large ceremonial cairns which had grave goods with them, suggesting they were for people with a reasonably high status in society. In other sites, like Phantassie, you see signs of every day, subsistence life, in the Iron Age."

Mr Atkinson added: "As a group it certainly qualifies as one of the most important finds in Scotland in the last 50 years."

Dr Gavin MacGregor, who directed the Ewfort dig, added: "It's a very important piece of work for us. Nationally important sites have been discovered and it's a great success for the all the parties concerned."

A spokeswoman for Historic Scotland said: "We are surprised and delighted by the quality of the archaeology.

"It is going to enhance our knowledge of early people in the Lothians very significantly. And that is a huge benefit to understanding of the rest of early Scotland too."

In 2000, the Scottish Executive pledged £50 million for upgrading the A1 to dual carriageway status, following years of campaigning by road-safety organisations and MPs.

The Haddington-Dunbar stretch is due to be completed next year.


Big Yin's standing stone

Nine-foot rock in his garden
by Bob Dow (Daily Record)

COMIC Billy Connolly has put up his own three-ton standing stone in his Highland garden. The lump of Caithness granite at Candacraig House in Strathdon, Aberdeenshire, is inscribed with the Big Yin's favourite saying: "There's no such thing as normal." Glasgow-born Connolly has a long-standing passion for Scotland's standing stones. He was filmed dancing naked around a ring of stones in Orkney during a televised tour of Scotland. And after buying secluded Candacraig , he was determined to have his own.

Telly pal Michael Parkinson put him in touch with English-based carver Martin Cook, 45, who travelled to Wick to select the stone himself. Martin carved the inscription by hand before transporting the stone to Strathdon and putting it up. Martin said: "I get some unusual requests and standing stones are now very popular for people to have in their gardens with carved words or poetry on them.

"The carving took the best part of a week. Then it was transported to Billy's place and we fixed it on to a concrete foundation. With the help of the gardeners and anyone else around, we hoisted it into place with ropes ."

The stone, which is nine feet high, stands discreetly at the foot of a mound in the 12 acres of grounds. Martin said: "It is not dominating the garden, the idea of standing stones is that they draw an energy to them. It was a lovely commission, very unusual.

"Apparently, it has been admired a lot by all his guests he has had up there but I haven't had any spin-offs from it yet." Martin stayed with Connolly and wife Pamela Stephenson at Candacraig during the work.

He said: "It was fantastic. Billy and his wife are delightful people. Incredibly hospitable and what you see with him on TV is absolutely how he is."

I'm a freelance eyewear designer in Edinburgh, exiled from my beloved Perthshire. I also run a website which includes a section on Scotland's many standing stones, stone circles and other old things:

Stravaiging around Scotland

Some things I like:


You can read more of my ramblings here:

My TMA Content: