holiday cottage isle mull

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Arle Lodge
holiday cottage isle mull
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You may find this information helpful when researching the area prior to your visit

By 6000 years ago there were certainly permanent inhabitants who are the first ancestors of the Scots, not at first in any recognisable permanent communities, but living rather a nomadic life passing the days and years and generations in fishing and hunting along the shores, and sometimes entering, greatly daring, the forests of the interior.

As time passed, later waves of visitors and settlers arrived, bringing with them new genes, new skills and new customs; adding to the ability of the natives to use implements of bone, wood and stone, the knowledge of metal-working in bronze and iron; offering as a means of livelihood not just hunting, gathering and herding, but crop growing - agriculture in the proper sense. Once the skills of seed-time and harvest were acquired, settlement in the real sense of permanent residence in selected sites was possible.

Our knowledge of how and when this sequence of events took place can never be wholly satisfactory, because all this happened before written records, and even before oral tradition can be used to fill the gap which the absence of written evidence leaves. The sites discovered and excavated are the archaeologist's samples. From the shells and fish bones in the middens buried under the sands of Tentsmuir in Fife, we learn of the presence and survival methods of our earliest natives. From the discovery of a hollowed-out log or dugout canoe in the bed of the River Tay we deduce that men were able, using such vessels, to make sea-borne journeys. At the wonderful site of Skara Brae in Orkney we can see preserved the stone skeleton of a village, 4000 years old, buried under the sand by one gale, and laid bare by chance, after almost 4000 years, by another. Our one source of information is the science of archaeology. Archaeologists have done - and continue to do - wonders in providing the rest of us with our awareness of the remote past, but there are, inevitably, limits to what this can tell us. The identification of a site of historic interest is largely a matter of luck, however informed and perceptive the searcher may be; and the excavation of such a site is costly in time and money. We have to accept the evidence of the archaeologist in much the same way as one accepts the evidence of modern political scientists using samples to point to probabilities.

The sites discovered and excavated are the archaeologist's samples. From the shells and fish bones in the middens buried under the sands of Tentsmuir in Fife, we learn of the presence and survival methods of our earliest natives. From the discovery of a hollowed-out log or dugout canoe in the bed of the River Tay we deduce that men were able, using such vessels, to make sea-borne journeys. At the wonderful site of Skara Brae in Orkney we can see preserved the stone skeleton of a village, 4000 years old, buried under the sand by one gale, and laid bare by chance, after almost 4000 years, by another. From such sites we can learn what these ancestors of ours ate and wore; from the articles and ornaments found we can make deductions about their society; and when we find the graves where they buried their dead or their cremated ashes.

We can use this kind of evidence to identify the variety of peoples, arriving at different times, because their goods are new and different and because their dead are buried in different fashion in tombs of different structure and dimensions. Even the poor exposed skeletons tell the story of a variety of peoples with differing physical characteristics, all of whom came to live here. We can begin to see, in the mind's eye, a kind of parade of the earliest, primitive hunters, the more skilled agriculturalists, and the metal-working Beaker folk, who buried their dead in individual tombs, leaving with each the vessels and implements which might be found useful in the after life .