Tag Archives: Scotland

Western Europe’s Oldest String Instrument Uncovered in Scotland

Archaeologists in Skye have uncovered the remnants of a lyre on the Isle of Skye. The artifacts looks to be around 2,300 years old and served as a bridge to the musical instrument. While lyre’s existed in the Eastern World more than 5,000 years ago, this piece represents the earliest example uncovered in the Western World. This find is especially rare, considering the material from which it is made:

“Stringed instruments, being usually made of wood, rarely survive in the archaeological record, but they are referred to in the very earliest literature, and, in various forms, were to feature on many stone carvings in Scotland and Ireland, and to become emblematic in both countries.”

To lean more about this find, see the article in BBC News.

Pre-Cursor to Stonehenge Located in Northern Scotland

Archaeologists working on the Orkney Islands, one of the northernmost regions of Scotland, have uncovered a stone-age complex that they believe to be a precursor to Stonehenge.

The ritual center called the “Ness of Brodgar” predates Stonehenge by at least a few centuries (early radiocarbon dating suggests that it was first occupied by 3200 BCE). The site hosted several stone age rituals that appear similar to those hosted in Salisbury more than 500 years later.

To learn more about this discovery, see the article in National Geographic or the Orkney Jar Dig Diary.

More than 60 Pairs of Shoes Found in Roman Scottish Fort

Archaeologists working at a recently discovered Roman fort in Camelon Scotland have uncovered more than 120 leather shoes. The find is remarkable, not only for the fact that it is the best evidence for a Roman presence this far North, but the level of preservation.

In addition to the shoes, archaeologists have also found coins, jewelry, pottery, and animal bones. The fort was located along the Antonine Wall, the short lived earthen barrier built by the Romans in Northern Britain in their ill-fated attempt to further their presence in the ‘barrens’ of Scotland.

To read more about this find, see the article on National Geographic.

Two Roman Forts Uncovered in Scotland

Archaeologists working in Falkirk Scotland have announced that they have uncovered two Roman forts and a bounty of archaeological remains (such as axes, bones, jewelry, and leather shoes). The discovery is exciting as there is little evidence remaining of the Roman occupation of Scotland.

Archaeologist Martin Cook has said of the discoveries:

“This will be one of the most important finds in the Falkirk area for decades and one of the best ones we’ve been involved with… This proves that the Romans were there for a greater length of time, which is different to their normal routine of coming in, building something and then tearing it down so the natives can’t use it once they have left.”

Excavations at the sight have only just begun and further digging is expected to continue along with wide-spread conservation efforts. To read more about this find, see the article in the Scotsman.

The Carmichael Watson Project at the University of Edinburgh

On my recent trip to the United Kingdom, we were given the privilege of enjoying a tour of the Rare Books Collection at the University of Edinburgh Library. We met with Joseph Marshall, Ph.D., the rare book librarian, and were given an amazing tour of the rare books collection, catalogue, and conservation unit as well as an informative history of the library. While there, we also got a quick glance of the Carmichael Watson Project.

Alexander Carmichael was a writer and an amateur  folklorist of Gaelic Scotland. His most prominent work, the Carmina Gadelica, recorded a series of poems, hymns, incantations, and so forth translated by Alexander Carmichael.

The Carmichael Watson Project, hosted by the University of Edinburgh, is an online resource of Alexander Carmichael’s works, including:

  • Full text transcriptions
  • Digital images
  • Fully indexed catalogue
  • Biographical Records
  • Geo-referenced place-names
  • Handwriting guide

If you have any interest in Gaelic and/or Scottish culture or oral traditions, this is a can’t miss exhibit. Check it out!