September is Scottish Archaeology Month; a programme of free talks, tours, exhibitions, workshops and hands-on activities that promotes the archaeological heritage of Scotland. This year marks the tenth anniversary of this nationwide programme of events, launched at the beginning of September in Newhailes, Musselburgh.
Scottish Archaeology Month is coordinated by Archaeology Scotland, one of the leading centres for community archaeology in Scotland. This is a voluntary membership organisation that brings together people for whom archaeology is an interest, an active pastime or a career. Through both formal and informal education programmes, promoting the care of and access to archaeological remains, as well as supporting all aspects of archaeological work today, Archaeology Scotland works to ensure the long-term security of Scotland’s archaeological heritage for generations to come.
An important part of their outreach work is Scottish Archaeology Month. Through over 200 free events this initiative does a great deal to make Scotland’s past accessible to the public. The events range from talks and walks, to re-enactments and learning archaeological skills, throughout Scotland, from the Shetland and Orkney Islands in the north to the Scottish Borders in the south. So for anyone visiting Scotland this month (some events do in fact carry on into October) there is surely something on offer for you; for an interactive map of events, click here. This coordinated series of events is Scotland’s contribution to the European Heritage Days that take place every September throughout Europe.
A Guide to the Archaeology of Scotland
The guide to the archaeology of Scotland will have a number of features, including 11 regional lists of sites and museums and an interesting range of thematic tours of the archaeology of Scotland, representing the various archaeological time periods of Scottish archaeology. A number of archaeological tours have been added to reflect the specific nature of certain time periods in Scotland; for example, a tour of the Neolithic and Bronze Age sites in the picturesque Kilmartin Valley, and the various sites that make up the Antonine Roman Wall built in 142 AD between the Firth of Forth and the Firth of Clyde. A number of sites have been added to existing archaeological tours that provide an ever increasing trans-national perspective on certain periods and site types, such as Iron Age hill forts and Medieval Abbeys.
Besides these geographically widespread site types there are also certain types of archaeological sites that are unique to Scotland. In the more northern and western regions of Scotland are numerous hollow, circular drystone structures constructed during the Iron Age, termed brochs. The origin and purpose of these enigmatic structures is the subject of debate in archaeology; not everyone accepts the idea that these were constructed for defence reasons. Many of these are accessible to the public, and we have created a tour of Iron Age brochs of Scotland. We also have a guide to the numerous sites with stone carvings made by the Picts towards the end of the Iron Age and the beginning of the Medieval period. The Pictish symbol stones are an exquisite element of Scottish archaeology.