FREE BOOK TO DOWNLOAD……. Kilmartin Museum On-line Talks….Prehistoric Deer…..A New Coal Mine???.....

by Bernie Bell - 09:49 on 10 December 2022


Four Neolithic settlements (StonehallSmerquoyCrossiecrown and Wideford Hill) in the vicinity of Wideford Hill, and three others further afield (Varmedale, Muckquoy and the Knowes of Trotty) were identified and excavated as part of a project which you can read about in ‘The Development of Neolithic House Societies in Orkney’ - Edited by Colin Richards & Richard Jones – and which is now FREE TO DOWNLOADhttps://archaeologyorkney.com/2022/12/08/house-societies-book/

Some related bits & pieces by …me!

Sent to a friend….June 2013…..

“Shall I give you my thoughts on Smerquoy?  Here goes…………….

As you know, when I saw the pecked design it spoke to me of a two-headed snake.  For the significance of a two-headed snake you could  Google…..  Symbolism of two-headed snake….   then go to the Wikipedia entry, which gives a basic idea.  ( I know Wikipedia can be a bit crap but, in this case, it’s got the basics).

Then a few days ago I read Chris Gee’s report in the Orcadian where he mentions burnt stones and water channels.  I thought, that’s like a what they call the Burnt Mound at Isbister.  These two thoughts stayed in my head but for some reason didn’t connect up until this morning.  Suddenly, the two things came together, and I thought that the building at Smerquoy may have been a House of Healing.

One of the interpretations of the burnt mound at Isbister (Tomb of the Eagles) is that it’s a house, just a house. And that the people there used hot stones to heat the water to cook their food. I always questioned this as it would be very, very unhealthy to live in a house which was constantly full of steam!  It wouldn’t be a great idea to live in a house with a whacking great tank of water in the middle either - but the steam would be very un-healthy indeed – bad chests, rheumatism, all sorts.

My own take on the place at Isbister is that it was some sort of sweat lodge where folk went to have their illnesses sweated out of them.  Possibly by adding herbs to the water as well, to match the condition.  The other thing is, at the Isbister place, there aren’t spaces for beds.  There are places to sit, but they’re not big enough for beds.  Space to sit alongside the water tank, to have your treatment?  Also, why on earth would folk cook like that when they had pots and fires in their own houses?  Maybe communal cooking?  I don’t know, but I always thought that the Burnt Mound at Isbister was some kind of sweat lodge.  I think some other people think so too, now.

Anyway - this morning it came together in my head that the building at Smerquoy could have been a House of Healing, with the two-headed snake ( a very ancient symbol) signifying this.  They even have water channels to drain the water away, ready for the next ‘patient’.   Maybe even so that they could replace the water with clean water for the different treatments needed.

That’s what came to me this morning.  A House of Healing.”

Wideford……  https://theorkneynews.scot/2018/07/31/bernie-bell-orkney-walks-with-stories-wideford-2/

Knowes of Trotty…..https://theorkneynews.scot/2022/02/07/the-knowes-and-thens-of-trotty-2/

These are just my ways of seeing these places, but they might whet your appetite for the book!


Kilmartin Museum On-line Talks…..

I received the most recent Newsletter from Kilmartin Museum - containing much of interest including info. about their popular programme of on-line talks which will continue in the New Year….

Join us for another round of free, online talks with a fantastic selection of speakers.

Please click here for information about our previous talks, or visit Kilmartin Museum’s YouTube Channel.

Thursday 19th January 2023
7.00 pm

Situating Viking Age Memorialisation in Southwest Scotland and the Irish Sea Area

Danica Ramsey-Brimberg
University of Liverpool

Early medieval southwestern Scotland has long been an area in which interactions between different groups of people occurred, creating a distinct place with a vibrant culture. The Viking Age was a particularly impactful period from the turn of the ninth century to the eleventh century. Combining textual references with physical forms of evidence, particularly burials and sculpture, reveals how much of an impact the Viking Age had on the modern-day areas of Dumfries and Galloway. Different groups introduced a mixture of ideas and practices directly from Scandinavia and other areas of the Viking Age world, including the Irish Sea area and up along the coast of western Scotland. However, elements were also fused together, creating entirely new entities unique to Dumfries, Galloway, and their surrounding area. By looking closely, these ideas and practices underscore southwest Scotland significant position amid the larger landscape of the Viking Age world and reflect the transforming and hybridizing society of southwest Scotland.

Thursday 23rd February 2023
7.00 pm

Sacrifice, scrap or something else? Practices of metalwork deposition in Late Bronze Age Britain and Ireland

Dr. Matthew Knight
National Museums Scotland

Throughout the Bronze Age, large quantities of metal artefacts were deposited across Europe. Interpretations often centre around whether these deposits may have been sacrificial offerings to deities or else discarded scrap metal intended for recycling. These grand ideas mask the individual decisions local communities made when depositing their objects, such as how objects were treated or what places were chosen. These were practices that allowed people to manage the world in which they lived. This talk will approach Late Bronze Age metalwork deposits made in Argyll and Bute and set them in the wider context of Bronze Age Britain and Ireland to highlight regional variations in approaches to deposition across time and space.

Thursday 16th March 2023
7.00 pm

"Talking torcs: South to North? or North to South?"

Dr. Tess Machling
Independent Researcher

Tess is an archaeologist and researcher, based in St Albans, and has been investigating Iron Age gold torcs since 2015. Working with a team of goldsmiths, silversmiths, replica makers and jewellers – and looking at the torcs from a craft perspective - it has been discovered that many torcs were not cast as was previously assumed, but are instead made of gold sheet.

This talk will look at these findings and examine whether, in light of several northern British torc finds, the previously assumed place of manufacture in East Anglia can be supported. Focussing on the torcs found at Netherurd and Blair Drummond, Tess will aim to show that it is equally possible that torcs were made somewhere else in the UK, with a number of influences beyond East Anglia affecting their design!”

If you would like to receive the Museum’s Newsletter you can sign up to do so on their website… https://www.kilmartin.org/


Prehistoric Deer…….


And I’m thinking of the pre-historic deer carvings found recently in Kilmartin Glen….. https://theorkneynews.scot/2021/06/07/you-can-never-have-too-many-links/


A New Coal Mine????....


I received this from 38 Degrees https://home.38degrees.org.uk/ ….

BREAKING: The Government just approved the first new coal mine in the UK in 30 YEARS. [1]

At a time when we need to shift from polluting fossil fuels to a clean energy future, this is an utterly ridiculous decision. And the worst thing? The coal produced won’t help lower our energy bills as it’s for steel production not energy production - AND the steel industry doesn't even want it! [2]

There’s already massive backlash building with MPs, scientists, environmental groups and even the Government’s own climate experts challenging this decision. [3] What’s missing? The public’s voice - OUR voice.

Just a few weeks ago the PM, Rishi Sunak, claimed the environment was a priority for his government. [4] But his actions say otherwise. Together we’ve already forced Rishi Sunak to U-turn on three environmental decisions: fracking, attending COP 27 and relaxing the ban on onshore wind. [5] Now we need to do it again.

So,  will you sign the petition and let the Prime Minister know that we do not support this ridiculous decision to open a new coal mine in the UK?



This isn't the first time the 38 Degrees community has come together to stop this coal mine. When plans for the mine first came to light we teamed up with Coal Action Network to launch a huge petition against the mine, and sent hundreds of emails to local councillors protesting their decision to let the mine go ahead. [6]

Our pressure worked, forcing the Government to launch a public enquiry into the mine - delaying a decision by over a year. [7] But now the Government has made the wrong choice. We need to take action once again to get them to change their minds.

Add your name to the petition today and tell the Government they must rethink plans for a new coal mine in the UK:



Thanks for all you do,

Simma, Megan, Matt and the 38 Degrees team

[1] BBC NEWS: First UK coal mine in decades approved despite climate concerns
Daily Mail: Michael Gove approves Britain's first new coal mine in decades as controversial Whitehaven site in Cumbria gets go-ahead despite climate concerns
[2] The Guardian: Could Cumbria coal mine be stopped despite government green light?
Sky News: First coal mine in decades approved, a year after UK lobbied to 'consign coal to history'
See note 1
[3] BBC NEWS: First UK coal mine in decades approved despite climate concerns
Sky News: First coal mine in decades approved, a year after UK lobbied to 'consign coal to history'
[4] gov.uk: PM statement at COP27: 7 November 2022
[5] 38 Degrees: Sign the petition: the government must rethink its fracking plans
Sky News: Rishi Sunak reinstates fracking ban as another Truss policy is reversed
38 Degrees: An open letter to Rishi Sunak on the climate crisis
The Guardian: Rishi Sunak U-turns on decision not to attend Cop27 climate summit
38 Degrees: Scrap the ban on onshore wind
Sky News: Onshore windfarm ban to be lifted in government U-turn
[6] 38 Degrees: Stop the Cumbria Coal Mine!
[7] BBC News: Cumbria coal mine: Public inquiry after government U-turn


Here’s one I made earlier…. https://theorkneynews.scot/2019/07/08/down-down-deeper-and-down/


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