37 – Scotcast Part Three

Bronze Age Scotland!

(History of Britain, History of Scotland, Celtic History)

Ok, we are now entering 2500 BC.

And the first thing we notice is that tomb and monument building has slowed. In fact, some settlements were even abandoned. And predictably, there was also a decline in agriculture. Areas that were cultivated were left fallow and overtaken by woodlands. Clearly there was some sort of recession, but what caused it? Well, we’re past that Climatic Optimum for Scotland that we’ve been talking about. And now things are getting colder and wetter. Maybe the crops just aren’t taking as well as expected, and it’s forcing a migration to greener pastures, so to speak. So that could have been a cause. And additionally, when the climate changes it’s not just the temperatures that change, it’s also the jet streams. And shifts in the jetstreams lead to significant changes in weather patterns and whatnot, which could have caused all manner of problems for this early agricultural society. Massive storms, all sorts of stuff might have been occurring during this climatic transitional period.

And at the same time as all of this, there was a change in burial behaviors. Cist graves were now being used, which are rectangular stone wall and stone capped graves. The bodies were usually placed on their sides in the foetal position, which is a change from the burial methods of their ancestors. Additionally, we’ve found evidence that the burial sites were strewn with flowers. A custom that we roughly continue to follow today.

Now there is a term we like to use for British Prehistory, and it will be the focus of what we’re talking about today: the Bronze Age. And we say that this age started in 2400 BC or so. But it wasn’t like the inhabitants would have seen it that way. They wouldn’t have said “my god, Heather, we’re in the bronze age!” They were probably too busy trying to stay fed, keep the gods pleased, and all that sort of thing. But it’s useful to us, because it is a hard and fast change in culture that we can date. If there was a change in religion, new gods or rituals, or if there was a change in culture, like perhaps going from polygamy to monogamy... that would be much harder to date. But finding metal objects, that’s handy and gives us an easily marked section of time.

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  2 comments for “37 – Scotcast Part Three

  1. Ron Titus
    May 25, 2012 at 10:43 am

    When my wife heard your remarks about the burial practices, she said that it reminded her of Chinese/Taiwanese Feng Shuii burial practices.

  2. April 10, 2014 at 9:25 am

    I’m coming late to your pod casts but I love them.

    I wanted to make one comment on the burnt mounds. You presented that they could be for cooking but then discounted it. To paraphrase “There were perfectly good fires for roasting.” Fires expend lots of fuel at high temperatures which is fine for some tender meats. A better use of energy and/or a way to use parts of an animal that would otherwise have been too tough to chew would be to find a slower, lower temperature way of cooking. Many cultures still use this type of clay pit such as Mexican barbacoa and Cuban pig roasts. This is the very essence of BBQ versus grilling methods.

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