Ben Lawers prehistoric rock art to feature on TV programme
A new gaelic TV programme on archaeology will include recent archaeological work above Loch Tay.
Few subjects are more difficult to study than rock carvings, for those in Britain are entirely abstract. Few are associated with monuments and still fewer can be dated, although they were probably made between 3000 and 2000 BC. A small team of archaeologists working on the National Trust for Scotland’s ground at Ben Lawers, Perthshire, has uncovered traces of rock art that could date back into the Neolithic period, 5000 years ago. Professor Richard Bradley, from the University of Reading, and Aaron Watson are leading the team of specialists. A recent survey, undertaken as part of the Ben Lawers Historic Landscape Project, of the north side of Loch Tay recorded a large number of previously unknown cup-and–ring marked rocks. The site chosen for excavation is on one of the terraces along the hillside with spectacular views down the loch to Kenmore. The archaeologists have been excavating small trenches around the bedrock outcrops to try and find any artefacts that might be contemporary with the carving and use of the rock art sites.
Prof Bradley said ‘Our project was located on the 400 metre contour. The work followed a simple procedure. One metre square test pits were excavated against the edges of the decorated rocks, and another ring of pits was excavated five metres away. This would be enough to show whether they were associated with deposits of artefacts and whether the distribution of finds was limited to the stones themselves’.
Derek Alexander, NTS Archaeologist West, said ‘the archaeological work at Ben Lawers has proven extremely useful, as very few sites like this have been excavated. It is also good that the results will be shown on TV as these cup-and-rings markings although relatively common are still regarded as a bit of a mystery’.
The work undertaken at the NTS property will be shown as part of a new series on the gaelic TV channel BBC Alba on Tuesday 11th May at 8.30pm and then repeated on Sunday 16th May. The programme will also be available to download and view again (for 7 days after Tuesday 11th) on BBC iPlayer at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00rzlvn . It is part of a six part series on Scottish Archaeology called ‘Talamh Trocair’ which means ‘hallowed ground’ and is presented by Kirsty MacDonald.