Thursday, January 17, 2013


Scottish harpoon head made from the antler of deer. Dated to 4500 bc. Impressive?

Oban is famous amongst archaeologists who study very ancient people. Rubbish found in caves in the area has been dated to Mesolithic times. Because Mesolitihc people did not have permanent sites, they moved from place to place, their remains are very few and far between. Some of them are now underwater as sea levels have risen.

Dating evidence shows that the Oban finds were of the time when the older Mesolithic people, morphed into the Neolithic people who tended to farm and stay in one spot. It is the dating of this borderline between the two which makes the place so unique and important. Why, how, did the hunter gatherers, turn into farmers? This period is actually called the Obanian period.

On a Ne/Sw ridge facing inland is the rock shelter, Druimvargie. Inside they discovered marine shells, crab claws, red deer bones fish and wild fowl all in a midden.

Basically these middens are mounds of rubbish. This can be analysed in many different ways these days, and dated. They are found all around Oban Bay, for example near Dunollie castle, and they have found some on the Island of Oronsay nearby.

One other interesting thing. Very interesting if you have a mind like mine. The early Neolithic people in this area depended upon the sea for a living. They knew about navigation, about tides, about holding a course, about waypoints, about navigable channels, about boat handling, This was different from the knowledge of people from the interior. Professor Barry Cunliffe, the only famous one who is not on Time Team suggests that these higher skills would have given these coastal people a much higher status in ancient communities. They were the ones who could bring in the exotic stuff from foreign parts. They were the ones with tales to tell of far away lands.

Bring it up to date more and for centuries the MacDonald clan sailed these waters and commanded all the Islands. No one could move here without a MacDonald say so. About 1,000 years it lasted. Not for nothing were they called the Lords of the Isles.

Yes, I know. Every now and again, I go off on one. Hobby horsing around again...
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