Friday, August 24, 2007

Ancient Scottish hunter-gatherers traced to Benderloch, in Appin

Reconstruction of Mesolithic settlement in Finland.

When our girls were young we used to go caravanning at Ledaig, near Benderloch on the Oban road. Once we climbed a small hill overlooking the village and picked up a tiny rock which seemed to be sliced into layers, interleaved with fibres, which looked burnt. It could not be natural.

I sent it to the British Museum who sent a report back to me that it looked like the remains of a Vitrified Fort. These strange embankments have no lime or cement to hold the stones together. It seems to have been done by the application of intense heart. But no one knows why. I remember our young Joanne was particularly disinterested at the time. When you are seven you have other things on your mind.

Now the archaeologists have gone back a lot further. They’ve found the bones of the Mesolithic people at the end of a garden in Benderloch. They lived between 3,500 and 5,000 years ago. They’ve found a jawbone and other bones and have uncovered some caves – in a garden! They think there are the remains of two individuals there possibly a youngster s well.

Times past, people roamed throughout Scotland, in small tribal groups. For 4,000 years, after the ice retreated the climate was warmer and wetter, For their living, woodland was good with its plant gathering possibilities, rivers and sea were good for fishing, They travelled, pursuing herds of animals as they moved inland in the Summer and to the West Coast in the Winter with its more tranquil, warmer climate. They butchered the animals with their stone tools, cooked the fish on open hearths. Nuts, fish and game is what they ate.

But the West Coast had one other thing in its favour. Caves. Caves were the housing estates of the day. Lewisian gneiss one of the oldest rocks in the world and it is perfect for creating rock shelters. That is what we have around this part of the country.

You know, this land is absolutely marvellous. We can trace the story of our people from the Mesolithics in their caves, the Neolithics with their the standing stones which are everywhere. The biggest in Argyll is just 2 miles down the road from the cottage. Then we have the unexplained vitrified Forts and the equally mysterious Brochs – on Lismore.

The duns and burial mounds of Kilmartin, the early Scots from Ireland, St Columba, the clash between the early Gaels and the Picts, followed by the Vikings, then their settlement and integration with the population. Angus Og, son of Somerled ruled the Western Isles and formed an alliance with Robert the Bruce. He won the War of Scottish Independence at the famous Battle of Bannockburn. This led directly to the Stewart Kings and Queens. The first Stewart to rule was his son-in-law. He led directly to Mary Queen’s of Scots, her son, James, the first Stewart King of England, ending with Bonnie Prince Charlie himself.

The rest is history.

What a place this is!

Lochside cottage near Glencoe in the Highlands of Scotland
Short Breaks Glencoe
Winter breaks in Glencoe
Special offers, short breaks, off season

No comments:

Lochside cottage near Glencoe in the Highlands of Scotland
  • Short Breaks Glencoe
  • Stories about Appin villages blog