Monday, October 13, 2008

Seasons, Skylines and Stone Circles

We spent an interesting day at Tullie House on Saturday, taking part in what was billed as a "day-school" but was essentially a series on lectures on a subject we love. The title "Much more than Stone Axes" was obviously dreamt up by someone who thought we wouldn't want to know about axes (we did, really) so we were sad to hear the stone axe man had cancelled.

Firstly, Aaron Watson gave an animated talk about stone circles - what they are (they're not all the same!) and why they might be where they are. The most interesting bit for me was where he showed a series of images taken as he climbed a Lakeland fell, and as he became more elevated the distant Mull of Galloway seemed to rise up out of the Solway. This we know now is as a result of the perspective changing to account for the curvature of the Earth; but what must prehistoric people made of it? Did they think that mountains had special powers because they called up entire other mountains out of the sea? And what about the fact that it can be sunny and warm down at low levels but as you climb upwards, the air gets colder and there even might be snow on the peaks? Did they think they were travelling through seasons, through time?

Next there was a lecture by Kate Sharp about prehistoric rock art, a subject we are very familiar with and even so because some of B's images were to be used in the presentation! There were a few sites I hadn't seen before though, and I'd like to check out, especially one reused as a gatepost which looked great. B had to stand up and take a bow for his photos ...

The lunch came next; carrot soup and plates of sarnies, too many sarnies and no cake! shocking. I had to go buy a brownie.

B placed some of his business cards on the top table and they all went almost immediately - each a little artwork all of its own. Some people must have been collecting the set...

The talk after lunch was about fieldwalking in the Eden Valley. This was fabulously interesting to me and made me amazed to think this had been going on so near to us and we didn't know. They had found loads of flinty tools and arrowheads; just imagine being the person to find those - we might do some next year, it sounds amazing.

Finally, the last lecture was about the Brampton Lunula, an item we'd seen pictures of before in a previous talk about Prehistoric Bling! It was a gold fragment first thought to be a gold spoon but soon identified as a lunula, the true purpose of which is unknown but it's shaped like a necklace so is often portrayed as such.

So afterwards some delegates took advantage of the offer of free entry into the museum - something we are already entitles to as locals, so we headed home, our minds buzzing.

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