Sea Stacs : what are they and why are they?

Current topics

Sea Stacs : what are they and why are they?

Postby hvered » 2:16 pm

The main task of the Megalithic Empire is to hold orthodoxy to account without falling into the toils and coils of alien invasions, conspiracy theories and mystery civilisations. Unless the evidence points to any of these things. Fortunately orthodoxy does most of our work for us and all we have to do is to take what they give us and then feed in the correct paradigm for the one they were taught when they were young and still think to be self-evidently true.

One of our pet beefs is with Official History's view that Civilisation starts with writing and that therefore anybody without writing practically lives in trees. We say it's almost the other way round: that the invention of writing put a stop to civilisation, or at any rate a different kind of civilisation. Have a read of this, straight from the archaeological coalface, and run with it as far as it'll go.

Archaeologists who have a head for heights
DIANE MACLEAN

A NEW archaeological survey of sea stacs off the Western Isles has uncovered evidence suggesting that the rocky outposts were inhabited from a much earlier period than previously thought, potentially revolutionising current thinking about who used the stacs and why.

Hundreds of sea stacs in varying shape and size protrude above the sea along coast of Lewis, in the Western Isles. Some stacs are joined to the mainland by a rocky promontory, while others are completely surrounded by water. If a fragment of land is wider than its height it is considered to be an island, but otherwise it is a stac.

Using the appropriately titled abbreviation STAC, members of the Severe Terrain Archaeological Campaign test their advanced climbing skills to conquer these sheer cliffs and access hitherto inaccessible sites. Established two years ago, the group uses information collected from oral history and old maps before visiting stacs that once showed signs of previous human habitation. "You get onto the stacs and have a root around," says field archaeologist Ian McHardy. "We try to understand what's there and also do a detailed map of each stac."

Until now little has been known about the stacs, although they were thought to be predominately Iron Age and used for defence. The Iron Age was certainly a period of conflict, as can be seen by the number of brochs and wheelhouses on Lewis, so it made sense to think that the buildings on the stacs came from this period and were for this purpose. These new findings may change this assumption.

"We found a much bigger range of time period for people using the stacs," confirms McHardy. "On one stac, Dunasbroc, we found high-quality pottery and some beautiful leaf-shaped flint arrowheads. We can't confirm until we get a specialist to analyse the pottery, but it looks like being of late Neolithic period."

This period – between 3,000BC and 2,500 BC – would put the use of the stacs much earlier than previously thought. While exciting in itself, it wasn't the only surprise the STAC members found on Dunasbroc.

Along the contour of the walls they uncovered a small platform that showed signs of being repeatedly burnt. Its function is still a mystery, and McHardy finds it easier to say what it wasn't used for. "It is in the wrong place for a beacon," says McHardy. "Where it is situated would have been hidden by the headland. And it can't be a kiln. Why would anyone want to build a kiln on a hard-to-reach sea stac?" Which leaves them with a tantalising theory.

"One possibility that we're looking into is that it could have been a cremation pyre," says McHardy. "We know from burial tombs of the same period that they cremated people and this could link the two." They are awaiting tests on a partially burnt bone fragment found close to the site before they can begin talking about their theory with any confidence. If the bone does prove to be human, then this would add to our knowledge of how people from the Neolithic period ritualised death.

Another stac that stays in McHardy's memory is Stac a Chaisteil. "It was the most difficult to access, we needed to absail down to get to the base and then climb up 30 metres," remembers McHardy. "It took an hour to get on and off every day, but we did find a block house (a precursor to the broch), which is rare in the Western Isles."

As the first and only project of its kind in Scotland, STAC is opening up a number of different sites for exploration. McHardy enthusiastically points out that there are more places - especially in Shetland and Orkney - that could benefit from an archaeology team who have been trained in rope safety and climbing. Their eye-opening discoveries can only ensure a bright future for archaeologists in Scotland seeking a bit of adventure.
Archaeology News
hvered
 
Posts: 851
Joined: 10:22 pm

Re: Sea Stacs : what are they and why are they?

Postby DP Crisp » 2:36 pm

A funeral pyre on the very edge of the human realm? Yeah, why not.

But it also sounds like a lighthouse to me.
DP Crisp
 
Posts: 10
Joined: 2:23 pm

Re: Sea Stacs : what are they and why are they?

Postby Mick Harper » 2:40 pm

Yeah, lighthouse seems much the most reasonable explanation. The fact that it is “repeatedly burnt” suggests that it was lit at specific times to guide specific boats in. Being “hidden by a headland” rather supports this interpretation, I would have thought.

However there is a much more radical interpretation for stacks in general. It’s an established theme in the Applied Epistemological Library that the megalithics were prepared to put in a huge amount of initial work building permanent navigational structures so long as they a) would last indefinitely and b) didn't require people to maintain them. So a lighthouse i.e. someone lighting a bonfire every night in an out-of-the-way place is highly unmegalithic. Which is not to say that it might not have paid the locals to do it for local reasons.

What IS megalithic is the sea-stacs themselves. What price that they are not “odd geological formations” at all but engineered geological formations?
Mick Harper
 
Posts: 872
Joined: 10:28 am

Re: Sea Stacs : what are they and why are they?

Postby Komorikid » 3:11 am

This from the article above

Along the contour of the walls they uncovered a small platform that showed signs of being repeatedly burnt. Its function is still a mystery, and McHardy finds it easier to say what it wasn't used for. "It is in the wrong place for a beacon," says McHardy. "Where it is situated would have been hidden by the headland.


Wrong place for a beacon you say.

Then go straight for the funeral pyre. Gee I didn't see that coming.

I can see an awful lot of sea out there and wouldn't it depend on what direction it was designed to be seen from.

I'm going with lighthouse too.

See for yourself

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jamesm/1458964867/
Paul M
Komorikid
 
Posts: 12
Joined: 3:18 pm
Location: Cleveland, Australia

Re: Sea Stacs : what are they and why are they?

Postby hvered » 9:36 am

Shetland and Orkney are intensely Megalithic places, stopping-off points on the busy route round the northern coast of Scotland. Lighthouses at dangerous points on the coast suggest particular individuals or groups were given the responsibility of looking after the sites.
hvered
 
Posts: 851
Joined: 10:22 pm

Re: Sea Stacs : what are they and why are they?

Postby Jools » 11:03 pm

You might go a teensy bit further than the evidence allows and speculate that mining e.g. for tin would have taught the Ancient Brits how remarkably easy it is to change chalky/limestone coastal features. Or, if you prefer, they discovered that when constructing/ altering coastal features they discovered what useful by-products were thereby engendered.

It is interesting that orthodoxy seems to be gradually catching up with the rest of us when it comes to re-evaluating the sophistication of pre-historic trading networks.
Jools
 
Posts: 30
Joined: 8:14 am

Re: Sea Stacs : what are they and why are they?

Postby Malmaison » 7:03 pm

Komorikid wrote:I can see an awful lot of sea out there and wouldn't it depend on what direction it was designed to be seen from.

I'm going with lighthouse too.

Margate is on the Isle of Thanet though it's now part of the mainland, the north-east coast of Kent.

The name 'Thanet' is corruption of the Celtic teine-arth "high fire", suggesting that there may have been a lighthouse or beacon on the island.
Malmaison
 
Posts: 16
Joined: 11:06 pm

Re: Sea Stacs : what are they and why are they?

Postby hvered » 8:04 pm

Malmaison wrote:Margate is on the Isle of Thanet though it's now part of the mainland, the north-east coast of Kent.

The name 'Thanet' is corruption of the Celtic teine-arth "high fire", suggesting that there may have been a lighthouse or beacon on the island.

There are three tidal pools all at Margate and quite close, though one is now disused. They are opposite Nayland Rock, Fulsam Rock and Walpole Rocks, it may be they were formerly sites for a lighthouse or beacon.
hvered
 
Posts: 851
Joined: 10:22 pm

Re: Sea Stacs : what are they and why are they?

Postby Mick Harper » 11:02 pm

Interesting. Margate is gradually becoming the most Megalithically underappreciated place in the entire world. The characteristics unveiled so far:
1. Presence of tidal pools
2. Position at eastern extremity of landmass
3. Being on a (former) tidal island
4. Name (means 'sea-gate')
5. Presence of caves
6. Shell grotto
7. Being on the Great Circle between English Stonehenge and German Stonehenge (at Goseck)
8. ... er ... do write in.
Mick Harper
 
Posts: 872
Joined: 10:28 am

Re: Sea Stacs : what are they and why are they?

Postby Boreades » 11:58 am

Komorikid wrote:This from the article above

Along the contour of the walls they uncovered a small platform that showed signs of being repeatedly burnt. Its function is still a mystery, and McHardy finds it easier to say what it wasn't used for. "It is in the wrong place for a beacon," says McHardy. "Where it is situated would have been hidden by the headland.


Wrong place for a beacon you say.

Then go straight for the funeral pyre. Gee I didn't see that coming.

I can see an awful lot of sea out there and wouldn't it depend on what direction it was designed to be seen from.

I'm going with lighthouse too.

See for yourself

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jamesm/1458964867/


I can't make out from that Flickr link which direction McHardy is talking about. Has anyone figured that out?

In any case, I see no problem with some beacons only being visible from certain directions. It's still done very deliberately, usually they are called Leading Lights, to indicate the safest or best direction to approach from.
e.g.
Image

See here for modern navigation chart symbols: http://mapserver.mytopo.com/mapserver/n ... ls/P6.html
Boreades
 
Posts: 2013
Joined: 2:35 pm

Next

Return to Index

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests