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Ancestors and Identity in the Later Prehistory of Atlantic Scotland: The Reuse and Reinvention of Neolithic Monuments and Material Culture

Richard Hingley
World Archaeology
Vol. 28, No. 2, Sacred Geography (Oct., 1996), pp. 231-243
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/125073
Page Count: 13
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Ancestors and Identity in the Later Prehistory of Atlantic Scotland: The Reuse and Reinvention of Neolithic Monuments and Material Culture
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Abstract

The Neolithic chambered cairns of Atlantic Scotland were monumental constructions. To an observer living in the later prehistoric period they would have seemed impressive structures, but dark, subterrancan and gloomy. The human remains and cultural relics on the floors of some of these tombs, if they were visible or disturbed, would have drawn attention to their ancient construction and links with the dead. The chambers of a number of chambered cairns in Atlantic Scotland have produced later prehistoric finds. The activities that occurred within some chambered cairns at this time may have related to the value of the human remains that they contained. It is possible that these resources were being curated, removed and used and that other objects were substituted. Rather more substantial changes occurred to the structures of a number of chambered cairns when later prehistoric houses were built. In these cases later prehistoric people, by actively rebuilding the houses of the dead as the dwellings of the living, may have been deliberately reinventing monumental aspects of the past as part of active strategies related to the projection of contemporary identity.

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