The prehistoric stones of Kilmartin Glen

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At the last meeting of this session, Lit members enjoyed a whirlwind slide tour of just a few of the more than 150 prehistoric sites in Kilmartin Glen.

Our guide was Roddy Regan, the very enthusiastic archaeologist who has been involved in many of the archaeological digs in this area.

Roddy’s talk included descriptions of finding Mesolithic pits during a commercial survey of a building site at Upper Largie and Palaeolithic items (before the ice age) in a cave at Kilmelford.

He also spoke of the amazing concentration of cup and ring marks in the area, although he confessed that he doesn’t know what these mean.

Roddy’s personal theory is that there may be a correlation to much later drove roads and tracks, or boundary markers.

Archaeologists pose the question – was Kilmartin Glen a ceremonial site?

Roddy and his team are now finding evidence of late Bronze Age ‘round houses’, more accurately called ‘hut circles’, and not many of them have hearths, perhaps indicating a non-domestic use.

The duns and cists which have been excavated have turned up food vessels or beakers, quern stones , and polishing or scraping stones.

Many in the audience were surprised to learn that during excavation incredibly detailed drawings and measurements are made and then all the material (turf, soil and stones) is carefully replaced.

Occasionally decorative items are found. Glass toggle beads found at Balure are significant as sophisticated analysis shows that the glass was from the Mediterranean region.

The glass was then ground up and manufactured into beads. There was a similar bead found at Dunagoil on Bute.

Roddy paid tribute to the many volunteers who take part in the digs and surveys – not always in warm, sunny weather – and also the enthusiasm of the school children who come to learn and conduct there own mini excavations.

A huge amount of information and material has been unearthed and documented but there is still much to be found.

The North Buteshire Literary Society is planning to create a website before the start of session 2019-20 in October, where information on all the group’s meetings will be available.

The group meets fortnightly at Ardbeg Baptist Church, King Street, Rothesay. Non-members are welcome.

If you would like to see regular articles from your group or organisation in The Buteman, call our reporter Kevin Quinn on 07860 530761 or email