From big houses to cult houses: early Neolithic timber halls in Scotland

Brophy, K. (2007) From big houses to cult houses: early Neolithic timber halls in Scotland. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, 73, pp. 75-96.

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This paper addresses a small group of Neolithic monuments recorded as cropmarks in eastern lowland Scotland that have been termed timber halls, the best known example being the large rectangular building, Balbridie. Three such sites have now been excavated, and all have been shown to date to the early centuries of the Neolithic and to have been largely similar structures; further possible examples in the cropmark record will be assessed, through looking at the use of the term 'timber hall' in Scottish archaeology over the past 40 years. The paper will also address a number of sites, mostly known as cropmarks, which have similar dimensions and architectural traits to these timber halls. Excavations, however, have shown them to have a very different form (for instance, probably unroofed), and to date to the latter half of the 4th millennium cal BC, several centuries later than the first timber halls. Drawing on excavation results, cropmarks, and evidence from outwith Scotland, this paper will discuss the changing form and function of the Neolithic 'timber hall' tradition in Scotland, arguing that roofed 'big houses' were later replaced by ceremonial and mortuary 'cult houses', drawing on social memory and tradition.

Item Type:Articles
Keywords:Neolithic Scotland, timber hall, settlement, ritual
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
Journal Name:Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society

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