Contextualising the cropmark record: the timber monuments of the Neolithic of Scotland

Millican, Kirsty Margaret (2009) Contextualising the cropmark record: the timber monuments of the Neolithic of Scotland. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

Due to Embargo and/or Third Party Copyright restrictions, this thesis is not available in this service.


Monuments of stone, earth and wood were built for the first time at the beginning of the Neolithic period in Scotland (4000 BC). While archaeological attention and investigation has focused upon monuments of stone and earth, those of timber have generally received much less attention and remain to be fully accepted and integrated into wider understandings of the Neolithic. This is despite a rich record of cropmark timber monuments held within the aerial archives of the National Monuments Record of Scotland (NMRS) and an increasing number of excavated timber monuments. This thesis is an attempt to remedy this imbalance. It examines all the evidence for timber monuments of Neolithic date currently recorded in Scotland, integrating those recorded as cropmarks with those uncovered during excavation and considers their place within the wider Neolithic repertoire. As the majority of timber monuments have been recorded as cropmarks, this thesis strives to move beyond cropmarks and the morphology of sites and argues that strict typologies serve to constrain the archaeological record. Instead a more contextual approach is taken whereby other factors, such as materialities or the use of space are taken into account. This is particularly put into practice within three case study areas where a landscape approach, employing field visits and a bodily engagement with the location of sites, is combined with GIS analysis and the consideration of the case study areas as a whole.

Consideration of timber monuments, both at a country-wide level and at the more detailed level of the three case study areas, demonstrates the wide range of timber monuments that were constructed and the important part they had to play within the wider monumental repertoire of Neolithic Scotland. Timber monuments can be suggested to reflect wider values and ideals shared by Neolithic communities as well as more local concerns and engagements by individual groups and communities. The monuments built may reflect some of the ways in which communities thought through and transformed their relationships to the forest and the wider environment and provide perspectives upon the importance of place and memory, the influence and important role of the environment, and the regional nature and diversity evident throughout Neolithic Scotland. Ultimately, this thesis demonstrates that timber monuments were important spaces and places that were used by Neolithic communities for many different purposes and so should form an important part of any consideration of the Neolithic period in Scotland.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Due to copyright restrictions the full text of this thesis cannot be made available online. Access to the printed version is available.
Keywords: Neolithic, Scotland, aerial archaeology, cropmarks, monumentality, timber, landscape archaeology
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Humanities > Archaeology
Supervisor's Name: Brophy, Dr Kenneth
Date of Award: 2009
Depositing User: Dr Kirsty M Millican
Unique ID: glathesis:2009-884
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 26 Jun 2009
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 13:27

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