Possible Neolithic ritual site on Arran may be a monument to shared human endeavour – Scotsman comment

Archaeologists on Arran are getting rather excited that they may have discovered a mass ritual site used by people in the Neolithic Age.

The possible ritual site on Arran overlooks the Machrie Moor standing stones, which sit around one kilometre away. (Picture: Colin Stephens, Flickr, CC)

An aerial laser scan of land at Drumadoon appears to show a ‘cursus’ monument in which two parallel lines of earthworks were built to create an avenue stretching for some 800 metres. Walking along the route would have taken people to a vantage point above a stone circle at Machrie Moor.

It is thought this may have been used for large processions, possibly in order to honour people who had died, about 5,000 years ago.

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The size of such structures means that they would have taken considerable time and effort to build, demonstrating that they were considered to be “incredibly important”, the archaeologists said, adding they were trying not to get “too excited” over what would be an “incredibly rare” find. Arran is known for its “impressive concentration of Neolithic monuments” and is considered to be a likely place to much such a discovery.

In thinking about prehistory it can be tempting to view our ancestors as people who lived in isolated family groups, which is one reason why sites like Stonehenge, also built from around 5,000 years ago, and possibly this one are so fascinating.

They show how much we want to gather together in large numbers and how much we can achieve when we work together.

It also underlines just how unusual the past 18 months have been in our history, a time when we have had to live in small, isolated groups, although even this was a form of collective action to defeat a deadly foe.


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