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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.
Posted by BigSweetie
17th July 2014ce
Was quoit a place of worship?
Carwynnen Quoit is standing proud again for the first time in half a century thanks to the efforts of a community group. Eminent Cornish archaeologist Professor Charles Thomas explains the ancient monument’s significance.
Today in Cornwall and Scilly the remnants of what are seen as Neolithic burial monuments, mostly excavated or ruined, involving large granite uprights and capstones and usually seen as having been enclosed in large kerbed mounds or cairns, are known by various names.
These include quoit, referring to capstones, and an English word for the small stone discs or horseshoes used in an old-style throwing game. They also include and cromlech, which is sometimes seen as “grambla”, an obscure dialect word shared with Welsh.
Its original sense was “curved-slab”, referring – like quoit – to a capstone.
In the last few years, thanks to Pip Richards of the Sustainable Trust and her archaeological colleagues, excavations and public involvement by schools and community groups have reached a most exciting stage at Carwynnen, the high ground in the southern part of Camborne parish. Readers will already know this as it has been well-reported in the WMN.
I write as a Camborne man, born in 1928, who well recalls the Carwynnen monument before its last collapse – possibly as a result of an earth tremor – in 1948. The monument, when complete, had three large local granite uprights and a vast granite capstone slab. It stands in what has long been called Frying Pan Field and was still nicknamed when I was a boy as The Devil’s Frying Pan. The implication, possibly overlooked until now, is that Carwynnen Quoit, as we may call it, was – unlike similar and contemporary Neolithic monuments in West Penwith such as Lanyon Quoit, Chun Quoit, Zennor Quoit and others – never contained in a large mound or cairn with stone-kerbed circumference and a low entrance passage.
Carwynnen was not necessarily unique in all of Cornwall, but radically different.
I don’t want to anticipate the findings of a report to be published by senior archaeologists Jacky Nowakowski and James Gossip, who are in charge of the exploration. What I stress is that this upland sector of Cornwall’s central east-west ridge has a general name of Carwynnen (Cornish: the light-coloured, or granitic, rocky hill) and that, despite centuries of mining and farming, it’s still riddled with standing stones, the odd stone circle, clusters of stone huts and early field-systems. Trial sections now dug in Frying Pan Field imply scattered Neolithic activity all around.
My guess is that those “frying pan” names date from the 16th or 17th centuries when English overcame spoken Cornish and that, before then, the monument itself was most probably cromlech. If so, the name would arise from the large, always visible, capstone. The conclusion is that Carwynnen Quoit was never contained in a vast mound of stones and earth and never so concealed. It was, if you like, open-air. From the Neolithic beginning, people could walk between the uprights, walk below the capstone, on a kind of neat circular paving, upon which they might place small offerings.
In other words, it was never built as a Neolithic burial mound. Effectively it was some kind of religious monument or a temple. Why, where and when it was made are questions still left with the archaeologists.
Now that the capstone has been replaced, the field tidied and sign-boarded, it is a temple once again.
Again as a Camborne man, whose family – from West Penwith – settled up there on the Carwynnen ridge in the 1680s, I find all this exciting beyond words. And I hope, readers of the WMN, will follow what happens next with equal attention.
Posted by moss
16th July 2014ce
Extension To Salisbury Museum opens
A £2.4m extension to Salisbury Museum housing more than 2,500 rare artefacts has opened.
The Wessex Gallery of Archaeology, which was partly funded by a lottery grant, is home to to a large collection of Stonehenge-related pieces.
These include the skeleton of a wealthy and powerful Bronze Age man dubbed the "Amesbury Archer" discovered in 2003.
The gallery also includes the Wardour Hoard containing 4,000-year-old sword fragments, spearheads and chisels.
Posted by tjj
13th July 2014ce
Duddo Stones still threatened
The Duddo Stones are still threatened by wind turbine speculators.
We have 2 schemes which have been refused by the planning authority because of the damage to the setting of the Stones, but which are being appealed.
One, for a 74m turbine to the north of the Stones, was unanimously refused on the advice of planners and heritage experts. But a planning inspector approved it at appeal.
Local people recently (June, 2014) took a huge financial risk, going to the High Court to get this approval overturned.
We now face this being re-determined, together with an appeal on the refusal of two 34.5m turbines, which were also refused because of their impact on the setting of the Stones.
You can help. See 'Guardians of the Stones'on the Duddo community website.
Posted by Nlys
10th July 2014ce
Dovedale Roman and Iron Age coins found after 2,000 years
Experts say the find is highly unusual as it is the first time coins from these two separate civilisations have been buried together
A precious hoard of Roman and Late Iron Age coins has been discovered in a cave where it has lain undisturbed for more than 2,000 years.
The treasure trove was unearthed after a member of the public stumbled across four coins in the cave in Dovedale in Derbyshire's Peak District.
The discovery prompted a full-scale excavation of the site.
Experts say it is the first time coins from these two separate civilisations have been found buried together.
Archaeologists discovered 26 coins, including three Roman coins which pre-date the invasion of Britain in AD43, and 20 other gold and silver pieces which are Late Iron Age and thought to belong to the Corieltavi tribe.
Although Roman coins have often been found in fields, this is understood to be the first time they have been unearthed in a cave.
The cache has been declared as "treasure".
National Trust archaeologist Rachael Hall said: "The coins would suggest a serious amount of wealth and power of the individual who owned them.
"Coins were used more as a symbol of power and status during the Late Iron Age, rather than for buying and selling staple foods and supplies.
"Was an individual simply hiding his 'best stuff' for safe keeping? Or perhaps speculating, in the hope that the value would increase in the future, like a modern-day ISA?"
She said the situation of the cave could not be ignored.
"Could it have been a sacred place to the Late Iron Age peoples that was taboo to enter in everyday life, making it a safe place that would ensure that person's valuables were protected?"
The largest hoard of Iron Age gold and silver coins ever found in Britain was discovered by an amateur archaeologist in 2000 near Hallaton in Leicestershire.
More than 5,000 coins, jewellery and a silver-gilt Roman parade helmet were among the treasures discovered during that excavation.
The British Museum's curator of Iron Age and Roman coins Ian Leins said that while this latest find at Reynard's Cave and Kitchen did not quite match the Hallaton discovery, it was "exciting".
For the first time, the National Trust enlisted the help of wounded ex-soldiers returning from Afghanistan to assist with the excavation.
The coins have been cleaned by conservation specialists at the British Museum and University College London and will go on permanent display at Buxton Museum later this year.
Posted by moss
7th July 2014ce
Karl Lee - Flintknapper and primitive technologist
Karl Lee, flintknapper and primitive technologist will be performing his art as part of the Festival of Archaeology 2014.
This event is free and runs from 10:00-04:00 on Sat 12th Jul 2014 at Chippenham Museum & Heritage Centre 10, Market Place, Chippenham, Wiltshire, SN15 3HF Tel: 01249 705020 Email: email@example.com Web: www.chippenham.gov.uk
Karl will be not only be making various flint impliments but selling items from his previous demonstrations.
For an insight into Karl's skill, see video from his previous demonstrations at the museum in 2011, a Ovate Hand Axe as used during the Paleolithic period, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xsHGXkxyQDU and a leaf shaped arrow head typical of the ones used during the Neolitchic period. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1rz99-0Zryg
For a profile of Karl, see the primitive technologist website - http://www.primitive-technology.co.uk/karl-lee/
Posted by Chance
6th July 2014ce
The Festival of Archaeology 2014 runs from 12-27 July!
Co-ordinated by the Council for British Archaeology, the Festival offers over 1,000 events nationwide, organised by museums, heritage organisations, national and country parks, universities, local societies, and community archaeologists.
and why not check out the Festival of Archaeology Photography Competition
To celebrate an amazing summer of archaeology, with the Festival of Archaeology, we’re running a fantastic photography competition! We are asking anyone with a great photo, fitting in with the competition’s theme to send it in to us.
There are two categories: ‘16 and Under’ and ‘17+’;
The theme for the ‘16 and Under’ category is Archaeology: A Worm’s Eye View
The theme for the ‘17+’ category is People and the Past
Shortlisted photographs submitted for both categories will be uploaded to our Festival of Archaeology Flickr page at www.flickr.com/photos/festivalofarchaeology Click on the ‘Albums’ tab to see separate groups for each category. Here you’ll be able to see your own photos and get inspiration from others!
Simply send up to 5 photos fitting your age groups’ theme to firstname.lastname@example.org
For Terms & Conditions see web site
Posted by Chance
6th July 2014ce
Archaeologists search for new portal into bygone era
University of Leicester archaeologists have been uncovering the past and this summer will be undertaking the final season of excavations at Leicestershire's finest Iron Age hillfort.
The nationally important hillfort, marked by dramatic earthworks, located near Melton Mowbray has been the setting for a five year research project which has helped redefine understanding of the hillforts use with the help and support of English Heritage and landowners the Ernest Cook Trust.
Located between Burrough on the Hill and Somerby, south of Melton Mowbray, it is one of the most striking and historic features in the landscape of eastern Leicestershire. The well-preserved Iron Age hill fort dramatically crowns a steep-sided promontory of land reaching 210m (690 ft), with superb views.
Dr Jeremy Taylor, co-director of the excavations, said: "Before the current project began there was little known about Burrough Hill, with only small scale excavations in the 1960s and 1970s to go on. As a result of the University of Leicester led excavations since 2010 we now have a fuller understanding of the nature of the hillforts occupation over time and the prestige of the hillfort residents during the Iron Age."
The excavations have revealed evidence of life on Burrough Hill from at least the Early Bronze Age, with last year's work identifying a small building and monument containing stone tools and pottery dating to around 2800 BC. The hillfort appears to have been constructed during the Iron Age, around 500 BC, and used throughout the later Iron Age and into the Roman period. The excavations have shown that Burrough Hill continued to be used well into the Roman period, identifying evidence for a Roman farmstead dating to the 3rd-4th century AD.
This final year of the project aims to investigate a possible second entrance into the hillfort and more about the life of its inhabitants in order to bring to a conclusion what has a been a very succesful series of excavations.
John Thomas, project co-director said: "We have been surprised by the quantity and quality of the information we have uncovered. It has really painted a new picture of life at Burrough Hill and helped to fit the hillfort into a wider view of Iron Age life across the county that we have steadily developed through other excavations over several decades. Now we can compare Burrough Hill not only to contemporary sites in the East Midlands, but also other nationally important hillforts such as Danebury and Hunsbury."
Thomas added: "We would like to share the results of our work with as many visitors as possible seeing as this is the last chance for people to view the excavations in progress. We run a programme of school visits during our time here, which has been supported by generous grants from the Ernest Cook Trust. This year has proved particularly popular due to the changes in the National Curriculum to include prehistory in primary school teaching. The open days we have held over the last few years have been
fantastically well supported and it is good to see the hillfort full of people who are excited about the discoveries we are making about one of our regions finest prehistoric monuments."
Posted by moss
1st July 2014ce
Review of Rewriting the (Pre) history of Ulster - Dr Rowan McLaughlin
This is a write-up of a talk given by Dr Rowan McLaughlin regarding how the 4000+ developer produced RC dates since 2001 in Ireland basically rewrite whole swathes of how we perceive the prehistory of Ireland.
[snippet from 1/3 of way in]
Over the last decade-and-a-half or so has seen a vast increase in the volume of archaeological data that has been produced. Much of this is the result of economic circumstances, where development-led excavations have been carried out in advance of construction. Many of these were carried out during the Celtic Tiger years, in advance of major infrastructural works such as roads, pipelines, quarries, and residential developments. In a perfect world, the excavations get written up and get stored in archives as ‘grey literature’ ... some even get published. McLaughlin estimates that over the last ten years alone some one million pages of new data for the island of Ireland have been written down. Rowan’s approach to the ‘data mountain’ has been centred on extracting an understanding of chronology from this mass of data, a task he describes as ‘the golden cord to lead out of the labyrinth’. An examination of all the available radiocarbon dates for Irish prehistory that were available in around 2001, shows that there were 1396 known from both published and grey literature sources. Plotting all of these out gives an indication of what prehistory is ‘like’ at this point. As may be expected, there are relatively few sites dating to the earliest periods and more sites from more recent times and a slow but gradual increase in between. This has led to a view of the prehistory of Ireland where there was an initial colonisation during the Mesolithic (c.10k cal BP) and that this was a relatively stable hunter-gatherer way of life until the introduction of agriculture (c.6k cal BP). After this point we see a population explosion that goes hand in hand with increasing social and religious complexities. From this point on we can witness communities evolving and adapting these beliefs and practices, until it reaches its final developed flourishing of civilization in more recent times. As he says: ‘The problem with that view is that it is entirely wrong. It’s not what the archaeological data actually indicate.’ He sees that this discovery has been the big achievement of development led/commercial archaeology in Ireland since the millennium. He then turned to another histogram of 4928 dates from prehistoric Ireland that have become available in the time since 2001.Instead of a gradual increase, there are peaks and troughs in activity. At some times it appears that there were significant episodes of large-scale archaeological deposition, and this contrasts with periods of seemingly little activity. To understand the reality of what we’re seeing here, there are a number of ideas that must be kept in mind. Firstly, all the dates must be calibrated as we cannot directly compare this archaeological data with environmental evidence from various regions. The other issue is the degree of bias in how these data points were collected. Obviously, the first bias is where excavations take place – either dictated by individuals’ research interests, or where development is planned. Further biases exist in the systematic approach that archaeologists use in the collection of this data. For example, there are certain types of features that are more likely to be dated over others – what McLaughlin describes as features that are ‘more juicy looking’ and, thus, more likely to be dated. Indeed, certain types of sites are almost completely ignored and this is an ongoing issue.
Posted by juamei
29th June 2014ce
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