Ceremonial development and reuse of Neolithic and Bronze Age landscapes
This thesis focuses on the development of ceremonial landscapes of Neolithic and Bronze Age Scotland, along with exploring the concept of ceremonial complexes within Scotland by looking at the patterns of development and reuse of sites and locations of ceremonial and funerary monuments built during the Neolithic through the Bronze Age. In order to accomplish this, three major ceremonial landscapes within Scotland, the Fife, southern Perth and Kinross regions; the Kilmartin Valley; and the Orkney Islands, are used as case studies. This study was conducted using site reports from the various excavations within the three case study areas, as well as using environmental studies, land use and soil maps, and topographical maps in order to understand what motivated the Neolithic communities to construct their funeral and ceremonial monuments where they did, and why the Bronze Age people either continued to use these areas or abandon them. Further, the methods of using various maps, such as land use, soil, and topographical maps, in understanding the reasons prehistoric communities had for the placement of monuments within the landscape are assessed with a discussion of the differences and similarities in the location of earlier cursus monuments and later henges. Of the sites studied within the three case studies, the majority of the Neolithic sites were found to be located on or near good arable farming land, usually near either lochs/waterways or valleys, which would have been used as routeways for travel across the landscape. During the Bronze Age, the sites follow a similar pattern with many monuments placed on or near Neolithic sites; however, several monuments were built away from earlier ones and found to be constructed on land less suited to agriculture and marginal land. These findings are mirrored within the discussion of the cursus monuments and henges, with the Early Neolithic cursus monuments located along or near waterways on arable farming land, while the later henges sited away from the cursus monuments were built in marginal locations. The positioning of these monuments along such travel routes would have made these sites important markers in the landscape for the transportation of goods and people for trade, migration, and pilgrimage as well as establishing a claim of the surrounding land for the communities who built and used them.