I joined Mr Fitz and Tom ‘Fourwinds’ for the ‘Materialitas’ conference in Dublin last weekend, where the theme was the Materiality of Stone.
The 16 speakers gave some very interesting talks, but perhaps the most relevant to the RAblog was the recent work by Andy Jones and Blaze O’Connor at the Torbhlaren rock art site in Argyll.
(GeorgeC hinted that this would be of interest and he was right).
Excavation around the outcrop uncovered the post holes of a small structure, plus other features including a cobbled platform against the outcrop. Long buried motifs were also uncovered on the outcrop itself, plus quantities of worked quartz were found, some being located in crevices in the rock. Charred wood from the postholes might provide a date for the activity at this rock art site. The platform and deposits in crevices also have similarities with some Scandinavian rock art sites.

More work is planned apparently so this is one to watch out for.
……….Oh and we had a few Guinness 🙂


8 Responses to Materialitas

  1. Cupstones says:

    As Fitz noted, Richard Bradley opened the conference with a very significant (in my opinion) keynote address, which seemed to reflect a refreshingly progressive viewpoint, which was also illustrated in several of the conference papers.
    RB started by describing his recent fieldwork in Norway, which has focused on the selection of stones with unusual, but ‘natural’ markings for use in dolmen tombs. Suggesting the lumps, bumps and patterns on the stones appear to have held significance for the tomb builders, and hinting at a kind of ancient ‘folk geology’.
    He then explored this topic further using ethnographic accounts to illustrate the ways in which ancient cultures have regarded stones, boulders and rock outcrops etc, often in connection with their spiritual beliefs and practices.
    Although I have heard RB speak on several occasions over recent years, he usually steered clear of the topic of ethnographic parallels, however this time he did not hold back. At one point, I almost fell off my chair when he brought up an illustration of the Saami world cosmology with its 3 levels (upper, middle and lower worlds), and then went on to note the 3 tiered arrangement of motifs at some Scandinavian rock art sites!
    Whether his address was tailored towards the Irish archaeologists, I am not sure, but several of the speakers were also making interesting observations that indicated an openness to explore beyond mundane explanations in an attempt to gain a wider perspective on prehistoric life.
    All in all a fine selection of speakers at this conference.

  2. rockrich says:

    Sounds like an excellent weekend was had by all.

    These post holes sound intriguing, was any info given on their position around the outcrop and possible interpretation?

    Also interesting to read that fissure shapes influenced type of motifs carved.

  3. rockartwolf says:

    Hi Folks

    Sounds like a good conference, would loved to have been there…

    thanks for the email Fitz about the paper..a good read..

    any more details of the conference would be much appreciated..


  4. Cupstones says:

    It was all a bit of a whirlwind visit – trains/planes/taxis/conference etc, but Mr Fourwinds guided us to a few of Dublins classic old style bars, where we sampled some ‘Irish culture’ (- probably a bit too much actually).
    I spoke briefly to Andy Jones and i think he said they might excavate around a second outcrop at Torbhlaren so it might be sometime before a full report appears.
    As for the quartz, it may have come from an out crop on a nearby hillside, but it had been ‘knapped’ or broken up on the Torbhlaren outcrop and some of it appeared to have been intentionally jammed into the crevices which sounds a bit votive?

  5. fitzcoraldo99 says:

    True enough, we had a great old time.
    Mr Bradley delivered the keynote address on the evening prior to the conference. Bradley was on top form and, to paraphrase Graeme, gave the speech that we’ve been wanting him to give for the past 10 years.
    The conference was heavy going at times, especially as we were both a little ‘jetlagged’, despite this it was extremely worthwhile and left us with loads of food for thought.

  6. hobsonish says:

    Glad it was a good un. It did look very interesting. Mrs H and I nearly booked, but couldn’t get babysitting. Such is life.

    Were there any clues as the reasons the quartz was there? I remember Morris writing he’d made C&Rs with quartz, but whe I’ve tried it, it doesn’t work. Quartz just chipped away to nothing. Was the quartz practical, votive or both?

  7. rockartuk says:

    Thanks for the feedback, Greame!
    Good to hear you had a nice time there. A few more lines about the Dublin night-live would be appreciated! As an illustation I added a rubbing of the Torbhlaren motif by Eavan Hadingham to your post (click to enlarge).
    A certain Mr C. took splendid pics of the newly discovered motifs but they have to remain in the dark room until the excavation report has been published. Any idea when and where?
    The rest of the Torbhlaren panels can be enjoyed at:
    Thanks again!

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