The geo-archaeology of Lochbrow

I’ve still not written up the piece on the glacial history of the Lochbrow area that I said I would write last year, though I promise I will soon. In the mean time, I want to write briefly about how interesting it is being a geologist on an archaeological project.

The Lochbrow landscape

Firstly, it’s been great fun working with a lovely team of people. Yes, one of them is my better half so I am legally obliged to say this, but I’ve really enjoyed being part of this project for a third year. I knew next to nothing about Annandale before I came here, and now I’ve become strangely addicted to the place.

I was not coerced by this woman.

It helps that I discovered that the science of ichnology – the one I claim to practice – actually began here. It also helps that Lochbrow keeps turning up strange stories, like the fact that Catherine The Great’s physician was born here, or that one of our volunteers was in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

More than that though, it’s fascinating to discover just how long Lochbrow has been part of the human landscape. The timber cursus is probably about 6000 years old, the timber circle maybe 4000 years old, and the Iron Age palisaded enclosures approximately 2000 years old.

From a geological angle, these are but blinks in the eye of time, but from a person perspective it’s impossible not to be impressed that a few fields in a Scottish farm can hold so much of human history.

I also love the fact that the further back in time you go, the more you have to think about how the landscape controlled what people did, rather than the other way round as it often seems today. I love trying to tease out the explanations as to why people lived where they did; how an ancient quirk of geology controlled the best place for a settlement or a fortress.

Digging for answers.

This year, together with Dr Robyn Inglis, I have been trying to add my own angle to proceedings, looking at the sediments, rocks and landscape of the Lochbrow area, to see if I can contribute anything of use to the archaeology. It’s too early to make any bold claims, but I think I’ve got some new information that might help.

One day I might even write it up here, but it’s probably wise not to hold your breath…

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