Ben Edwards’ Fund – Robert Smith’s Arran Report

Earlier this year, LAS awarded Robert Smith of UCLan an award from the Ben Edward’s fund, to help support Robert’s work towards his MA.  We have received the following report from him – and we hope Robert will be joining us in person at our AGM in January to tell us more about this fascinating project

The Neolithic and Early Bronze Age of Arran and Kintyre – Robert Smith

On the 7th September my research associate, Joe Howarth, and I arrived on the Island of Arran to begin conducting the field research for my masters dissertation. The study involves conducting a viewshed analysis of sites dating from c.4000 – 1400BC in Arran and Kintyre, using both field methods and GIS mapping software to show the natural and man-made landscape features are visible from these sites. The research involved travelling to chambered cairn, stone circle and rock art sites from the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age in Arran and Kintyre and recording what features of the landscape were visible with a paper and photographic record.

Auckagallon Stone Circle

Figure 1 – Auchagallon Stone Circle

We began our trip around Arran by visiting the Auchagallon stone circle on the west coast of the island. This site was the first we tried out our method of recording on, we used the camera to take pictures to the north, east, south and west from the middle of the monument and noted the conditions which it was taken in. Following Auchagallon the next place we went to was a complex of sites on Machrie Moor. There are 7 stone circles around the moor as well as 3 chambered cairns, and they are split into two areas, one of circles and one of cairns. On Machrie Moor we recorded information from 6 sites and noticed a pattern emerging with the stone circles, this was that there were widespread landscape views but generally only in one direction. We then began to wind our way around the southern part of the island to finish our recording on Arran. We travelled to the only rock art site we managed to get to on Arran, the site of King’s Cave. The site is located on a trail through the forest to the beach, and took about an hour to get to once there we recorded our data and noticed that the only view was out to sea across to Kintyre.

Brackley Chambered Cairn

Figure 2 – Brackley Chambered Cairn

The following day we took the ferry from Arran and travelled to Kintyre to complete all of our research in this area of Scotland. Many of the sites we tried to visit on Kintyre were inaccessible and so we were limited in what we could do. We did however manage to get to a few sites on Kintyre, the first of these being the site of the Ardnacross chambered cairn. Here we had amazing views inland towards the hills and mountains, but even though we were practically on the beach we could not see out to sea because of a number of trees blocking the view. The last site we visited on Kintyre and on the trip was Brackley chambered cairn. This was located at the end valley and was surrounded on all sides except to the south where we had a great view straight down the valley.

I am currently analysing all the data I have gathered from my trip to Arran and Kintyre and writing my dissertation which will hopefully give us a fantastic picture of what Neolithic and Early Bronze Age people were doing in their landscape.


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