Celebrating mid-summer with Discover Bute

Bronze Age coracles and Pygmy Pots, children’s processions and pottery kilns, a labyrinth, some drumming...and games on the beach?

When we hear the words ‘bronze’ and ‘beach’ we usually think of midsummer days lying on some foreign shore, soaking up a warmer sun than Scotland has to offer. 

The Discover Bute Landscape Partnership Scheme (DBLPS) however, has other ideas. This summer, the wonders of the Bronze Age on Bute (about 2300–700BC) will be the highlights of their spectacular family midsummer celebration on Saturday, June 18, at Scalpsie Bay.

Along with traditional beach games and sandcastles, outdoor theatre and guided walks, Discover Bute has organized a host of demonstrations and hands-on workshops to give children and adults a taste of what it was like to live at Scalpsie over the last five thousand years.

But there’s no need to wait until June 18 to begin enjoying a Bronze Age midsummer. 

“This is a very child-friendly occasion,” said Discover Bute’s project leader Bridget Paterson, “and everything is planned to involve the whole family on the day as well as beforehand.”

And in a series of free workshops leading up to the event, children can make their own clay Pygmy pots, a type of pottery often found in Bronze Age burial sites. 

These pots will then be part of an exciting scientific experiment at the Celebration when, with the help of eager volunteers, Discover Bute’s archaeology team will build Bronze Age-style kilns to fire the pots. 

Children can also learn to craft willow-withy birds and fish for two grand parades on the day, and learn some unusual drumming with the Samba Band who will be leading the processions.

Times and dates of the workshops will be advertised, so do look out for them in The Buteman and on the DBLPS website (www.discoverbute.com), but the first workshop is on Saturday, May 21, from 2-4pm at St Paul’s Church Hall in Deanhood Place. 

All children are invited to come along and make their own birds and fish to carry in the grand parades. Materials will be supplied.

There are workshops and pre-Celebration demonstrations for adults too.  Spectators are welcome at a three-day coracle building demonstration in early June, and a samba band will also be holding a drumming workshop for adults on June 17.

June 18 is very close to the Summer Solstice. Since even before the Bronze Age, people have celebrated Midsummer Day by lighting a fire, and Discover Bute’s Celebration will carry on this tradition.

After the fires are lit in the pottery kilns, events at the Celebration will continue well into the evening with family beach games and a Sunset Walk, and then a larger fire will be part of a second archaeological reconstruction, details of which will be revealed in a later article.

In fact, Scalpsie Bay will be humming with activities from morning till night, bringing to life the thousands of years of human habitation this unique landscape has seen.   So mark the date in your calendar, and look out for more details in the coming weeks.