Hands across the border? Prehistory, cairns and Scotland's 2014 independence referendum

Brophy, K. (2020) Hands across the border? Prehistory, cairns and Scotland's 2014 independence referendum. In: Gleave, K., Williams, H. and Clarke, P. (eds.) Public Archaeologies of Frontiers and Borderlands. Series: Access Archaeology. Archaeopress: Oxford, pp. 55-73. ISBN 9781789698022

Full text not currently available from Enlighten.


The current border between Scotland and England, UK, was a source of contention during Scotland's 2014 independence referendum; debate at times even involved the use and abuse of history and prehistory. Some strands of argument drew on the historical trope of Hadrian’s Wall being confused with the modern border, and this chapter reviews some of the more public examples of the debate in the right-leaning and nationalist press in Scotland. The main focus of the chapter however is the Auld Acquaintance cairn, located in Gretna just to the north of the border. This monument, based on Bronze Age Clava cairns, was constructed in summer 2014 to celebrate the union between Scotland and England. The construction process, and post-independence referendum life of this prehistoric-style monument is documented through analysis of media and social media accounts of the cairn, and site visits. These examples are used to caution against the egregious exploitation of prehistory in contemporary politics, having no relevance to the form and location of modern political borders.

Item Type:Book Sections
Keywords:Auld Acquaintance Cairn, Scotland-England border, Independence Referendum.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Brophy, Dr Kenny
Authors: Brophy, K.
Subjects:C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
College/School:College of Arts > School of Humanities > Archaeology
Research Group:Engaged Archaeology
Related URLs:

University Staff: Request a correction | Enlighten Editors: Update this record