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Archaeology InSites

Age of Stone
Age of Bronze
Age of Iron
Age of Invasion
Age of Warriors
Age of Worship
Age of Kings
Age of Clans
Age of Industry
Age of Leisure
Age of War
This Age

Age of Stone

Throughout January and the Age of Stone we venture into the depths of prehistory to explore the Palaeolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic. From scatters of stone tools and traces of domestic houses to chambered cairns and rock art, this age gave rise to monumental architecture and the adoption of farming, and has left a lasting legacy on Scotland’s landscape to this day.

Holywood South Cursus monument - Dumfries and Galloway

From the beginning of the Neolithic period communities built monuments which enclosed space on a scale never before seen in Scotland. Amongst the earliest and largest are cursus monuments, so-called because when first identified in the 18th century they were thought to be Roman chariot racing arenas. It was not until the 20th century that excavation and dating showed them to be of Neolithic date. So what are these strange named monuments?.

Stemster chambered cairn - Shean, Caithness

Caithness boasts one of the richest archaeological landscapes in Scotland. The countryside is littered with prehistoric remains, including numerous Neolithic tombs, commonly known as chambered cairns. These great mounds, made of stone and turf, have internal chambers and come in many shapes and sizes, including: round, oval, heel-shaped, ‘short horned’, long, rectangular, or ‘double horned’. Some are small and simple but others have multiple internal compartments and low, narrow passageway entrances. The flat nature of the available stone in Caithness provided Neolithic communities with the perfect building material to construct these spectacular, 5000 year old examples of architecture and engineering.