Transcript: Dr Alison Sheridan, VFT 3: Kilmartin Glen

Transcript: Dr Alison Sheridan, VFT 3: Kilmartin Glen
Question 2: How does landscape setting inform our understanding of the
monuments within Kilmartin Glen?
Well, Kilmartin Glen is a very distinctively shaped landscape… It’s framed very much by these high hills on
either side and it opens out to this wonderful vista towards the area around Dunadd and the Moine Mhor
bog. And I’m quite sure that that informed the activities of people in the distant past and in particular the
astronomical alignments. So, people would use the natural topography of Kilmartin Glen to align their
monuments so that, for example, in middle Bronze Age you have these rows of standing stones that seem
to be aligned on the moon in particular points in its long cycle. So it’s almost like a gunshot, you’re looking
along the valley and you’re observing a specific astronomical alignment.
Also the shape of the valley was used to theatrical effect during the early Bronze Age, sometime between
2150 and 1950 BC, when you have the building of a major cemetery of large cairns that run along the
bottom of the valley. And these made a statement. These were really the graves of the most important
people; so they’re the top lineages of the area, to such an extent that they actually remodelled an existing
early Neolithic chambered tomb that probably had a rectangular-shaped cairn – they reformed it into a
circular cairn to look like the rest.
So all in all the shape, the natural topography of the valley, has had a profound effect on how people used
it at different points in the past.
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