Cochno vs Kilmartin – fascinating talk on major rock art sites now available on YouTube (plus some Scot Arch Month 2022 Highlights) 📺

A fabulous talk given by Dr Kenny Brophy from University of Glasgow for Kilmartin Museum is now available to watch for free online, running time approx. 120 mins including Q&A. In it he talks about his work on the Cochno Stone & West Dunbartonshire sites, the value of archives for not only historians but archaeologists too, & how important contributions from well-informed amateurs can be. He then compares this to better known rock art sites in Kilmartin Glen. I’ll embed the video below & I highly recommend you have a look at the Kilmartin Museum YouTube channel to see their other interesting talks as well ⬇️


It’s brilliant this kind of information is available to the public for free & hopefully it’ll encourage people to – responsibly – visit these sites. A general guide for doing that can be found here ⬅️

Also, if you’re interested in this particular form of cup & ring style rock art, you may want to have a look at previous posts here & here where you can read, watch more videos, interact with 3D models etc 🐍

Speaking of information available for free here are some more highlights from Scottish Archaeology Month (September) 2022:

Hopefully this wee round-up was of interest ☺️ For more archaeology have a look at the Archaeology topic tag 🏷

📸 Featured Photo credit: Me, Kilmartin Glen – Achnabreck rock art featuring distinctive “cup & ring” marks

Tobar Nam Maor – a Pictish symbol stone with a Scottish Gaelic name

💧Tobar Nam Maor is a standing stone with Pictish symbols that got its name when it was found being used as a cover stone for a well of that name in 1910. Here’s a brilliant 3D model you can have a look at & interact with on Sketchfab:

📝 The name translates to “The Well of the Stewards”, or sometimes “Shepherds”. It’s been pointed out by those better at Scottish Gaelic than me – I’m still learning – that sources labelling it Tobar NA Maor rather than Tobar NAM Maor are incorrect, likely dropping the “m” from the end of “Nam” by mistake due to the next word beginning with “m”. This shows us how important it is to double-check things in the original language of the items we’re researching, particularly if they’re minority languages like Scottish Gaelic because this makes any issues both more likely to occur & more likely to be overlooked, even by otherwise reliable sources unfortunately…

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 More details on the Scottish Gaelic name issues – “nan” (or “nam” in the case of words beginning with b, f, m or p) is the genitive article for plural nouns & so can be used with both masculine & feminine nouns to indicate possession or close association. However “na” as a genitive article is not only singular, but cannot be used with masculine nouns like “maor”, so this grammatical impossibility is what tells us that the “m” in “nam” has been dropped. Hopefully that made sense & I obviously welcome any comments native &/or fluent Gaelic speakers may have. See these helpful tables from Learn Gaelic for further clarification.

⭐️ Canmore Info for this stone can be found here

⭐️ Highland Historic Environment Record info can be found here

⭐️ Further HER entry showing a source with an example of correct spelling & translation can be found here

📸 Featured Photo credit: Pexel

“Performing Magic in the pre-Modern North”: Upcoming free online conference – now updated to include YouTube link as event has passed 📣

⭐️ UPDATE: all of the talks given at the conference are now available to watch on the Performing Magic in the pre-Modern North YouTube channel ⬅️

This looks like an excellent online event which I’m told will hopefully be recorded for those who can’t make the live sessions taking place on 8th & 9th December, 2021 🎥

This event is free & of course Scotland will be one of the areas covered, with several of the speakers invited being from the University of Aberdeen & the University of the Highlands and Islands 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

⭐️ Register on Eventbrite 🎫

📃See also – Conference Programme showing topics, invited speakers etc

❄️ Have a look at a previous post on an article written by one of the invited speakers – Dr Ragnhild Ljosland – Also you can have a listen to a recent interview here on the Witches of Scotland Podcast 🎧

📸 Featured Photo credit: Pexel

More Kilmartin Glen Rock Art!

I thought I’d follow up the short post I did a wee while ago highlighting an upcoming presentation on the ancient rock art in Kilmartin Glen with some more info and images ☺️

The Kilmartin Glen area is rich in ancient rock art spanning from the several thousands of years old cup and ring marked stones, to later Gaelic art carved onto some of the stones at Dunadd, a hillfort that was the centre of power for the kingdom of Dál Riata. It’s a fascinating area that’s well worth a visit, and on a personal level the art I saw there – plus it being the only place I’ve seen an adder in the wild as previously mentioned – inspired the logo design for this site 🐍

Firstly, below are a couple of examples of cup and ring marked stones in the area ⬇️

Achnabreck Cup and Ring Marks, same in Featured Photo – interactive 3D model from Historic Environment Scotland
More Achnabreck Cup and Ring Marks – interactive 3D model from Historic Environment Scotland
Cairnbaan West Cup and Ring Marks – interactive 3D model from Historic Environment Scotland

For more information on the archaeology, location etc of these sites – believed to be about 5,000 years old – visit here for Achnabreck and here for Cairnbaan. Remember when visiting these sites to respect them & the environment, plus any wildlife or farm animals that may be around – see The Woven Land Network for helpful guidelines 🗺

Next, below is a great wee presentation on experiencing various types of rock art throughout Scotland incase anyone missed it in the other post ⬇️

Talk by archaeologist Aaron Martin, Kilmartin Museum, about experiencing rock art that features some from Kilmartin Glen – running time: 46mins

Finally, for more info and images on rock art in Kilmartin Glen, such as at Dunadd or at Dunchraigaig (where the first prehistoric animal carvings in Scotland were recently found), you can search sites like:

📸 Featured Photo credit: Me, Kilmartin Glen – Achnabreck rock art featuring distinctive “cup & ring” marks

Pictish Trail & Myth-Busting

Just a wee post to highlight a couple of interesting resources & places to visit in connection with the Picts 🙂

🪧 The Highland Pictish Trail Website – full of great info & places to visit. Extract from site intro:

“From the 300 AD to about 900AD, the Picts ruled much of what is now Scotland, and the Highlands were an important centre of Pictish power, culture and religion.
Today, you can experience for yourself their fascinating legacy in the Highlands – enigmatic and often finely carved stones, important religious sites, hillforts set on towering hills and ridges, finely-worked jewellery and sculpture cared for in local museums, and stories of kings, wizards, faith and battles.”

💥 Great Myth-Busting article from Dig It! – available in Scots (& English, but give the Scots a go)! Extract from intro:

“The Pechts are best kent fur their byordinar symbol stanes, whit are tae be fund oot-through Scotland. Hooivver, recent research has brocht tae licht michtie new elite settlements and airtit oot Pechtish monasteries – forby, it has e’en gied us dates fur these ferlie stanes. Takkin tent o aw this new data, lat’s hae a glisk at some o the maist common questions speirt anent thon unco interestin fowk.”

⭐️ For those that can’t visit any Pictish sites at the moment, here’s a fab wee collection of interactive 3D models of some of them on Sketchfab. Example of one 1 I really like (as you can tell from the Featured photo lol):

📚 For more have a look the Picts topic tag & the Picts section of the Resource pages

📸 Featured Photo credit: Me, Fortingall

Kilmartin Glen Rock Art

I love Kilmartin Glen for its fascinating rock art, ancient monuments & being the only place I’ve seen an adder in the wild 🐍✨

🌙 UPDATE – recorded talk mentioned below now available to watch here on YouTube (Duration: 45 mins)

🗓 Kilmartin Museum will be putting on an online talk about rock art in & around Kilmartin Glen this Thursday 30th September 2021, 7pm GMT.

⭐️ You can book a free place to attend next Thursday’s talk live here on the museum’s website.

🪨 There’s also fantastic talk you can watch about experiencing this kind of art in Scotland available to watch on YouTube in the meantime.

📰 Related article about a fantastic chance discovery in one of the Kilmartin Glen cairns, including 3D Sketchfab models you can view – just goes to show you should always keep your eyes peeled, look at things in different lights etc 👀

🔗 Link to brilliant article about Kilmartin Glen rock art, with particular mention of Kilmichael Glassary from The Urban Prehistorian

📸 Featured Photo credit: Me, Kilmartin Glen – Achnabreck rock art featuring distinctive “cup & ring” marks

Early History of Christianity in Scotland

Saints & Sea Kings by Ewan Campbell is part of the Historic Scotland “The Making of Scotland” series. Like all books in the series it’s short & good for a simple introduction/overview, with further reading recommendations at the end.

This book mentions early Christianity in Scotland & Columba in particular. It describes the small numbers of monks involved as well as how evidence points to both Christianity & the older Religion existing side-by-side for quite some time, such as the syncretic nature of beliefs in Scotland. It also goes into the power & prestige of writing after it was introduced by Christian monks, which had a massive impact on wider society & culture. Lastly, on a non-religious note, it covers how the idea that Scottish Gaelic culture & language came to Scotland through invasion from Ireland is a myth – these books were written a wee while ago so it was a newer argument at the time, but now it’s well established that Scottish Gaels had always been in certain areas of Scotland, connected with Ireland by the sea.

➕I feel understanding this transitional time period is very important as misconceptions about the Christianity in places like Scotland & Ireland are still quite prevalent today. For example, because of violence & forced conversions elsewhere, it’s often assumed that it must have been the same everywhere, so every St Patrick’s Day you get the modern myths about St Patrick somehow single-handedly murdering thousands of pagans. Another example is that because some people are unaware of just how long Christianity has been in Scotland, they believe false claims that the Witch Trials in Scotland involved executing pagans.

📚Another book in series that covers this transition in Southern Scotland is Angels, Fools & Tyrants by Chris Lowe (I’d recommend the whole series if you can get it – they were part of the reading from my Archaeology course at Uni & cover Scottish history from pre-history to the decline of the clans)

🔗 For more have a look at the Religion & the Witchcraft Beliefs & The Witch Trials sections of the Resources Pages – I’ll be adding more to these sections over time.

(📸 Featured Photo credit: Me – Pictish Cross Slab at Loch Kinord, Canmore Site Record)

Slavery in Suriname & Guyana

I’d like to share a lecture I watched recently on Scotland’s involvement in slavery in Suriname & Guyana, plus a couple of links to further resources on Scotland’s involvement in the slave trade as well.

I’ll put a brief summary of the lecture & a screenshot of the main points below.

Summary of lecture:

I thought this was a good, comprehensive lecture on Scotland’s (particularly Highland Scots) involvement with slavery in Suriname & Guyana, both before the Acts of Union & after slavery was made illegal in the British Empire (these were Dutch colonies, so of course Dutch involvement mentioned too). It also mentions indentured labourers from countries like India & the British Government’s role in forcefully removing Guyana’s left wing government in the 1950s as well as the stoking of racial tensions.

💻 Watch the lecture on YouTube

Lecture topics covered – I’m informed that David Alston does great work in sharing his research with the Caribbean community in Scotland which is really good to know

The Empire Museum

Slavery Artefacts, Documents etc in Glasgow Museums

(📸 Featured Photo credit: Pexel)

Ardnamurchan Vintage Film Footage

Always good to see the land that the folklore, songs, practices etc are connected to 😊

🎞 Watch this 16 min colour film shot in the Ardnamurchan peninsula by Iain Dunnachie in 1949-1950 online here.

📍Scottish folklorist Calum I. Maclean collected a lot of information from this area in the 1950s:

🎙Example recording from 1957:
💻 Related article:

🎙Another example from 1954:

➕ Not collected by Calum I Maclean, but an interesting record from Ardnamurchan regarding funds for the upkeep of “changeling” Duncan McLauchlan was shared by Scotland’s People recently on Facebook. Apparently the term is found “quite routinely” in the local Kirk session register up until 1790 – source: Black’s ‘The Gaelic Otherworld’. This seems to have been a much nicer outcome than many “changelings” would have suffered, so hopefully they were treated well.

(📸 Featured Photo credit: Pexel)

The Picts – Religion

Just wanted to share this video for anyone who is interested in the Picts or just Scottish history in general, especially in relation to pre-Christian spiritual beliefs 🙂

Unfortunately we know very little about Pictish pre-Christian beliefs, so when it comes to reconstructing Scottish paganism it’s Scottish Gaelic Polytheism that people must base their practice on.

However research by archaeologists etc is still ongoing, & in this video Dr Kelly Kirlpatrick outlines her argument that at least some of the figures depicted on Pictish stones may be those of Pictish deities. She draws on examples from other European cultures – such as Norse – in order to show why she thinks this as they have at least some of their mythology surviving in written form today while the Picts sadly don’t. Of course this is still very sparse & speculative info, but interesting all the same I think 😊

🖥 Watch the lecture above (duration about 55 mins) or here

(📸 Featured Photo Credit: Me)