Templewood, also known as Half Moon Wood, is an extraordinary graveyard. An ancient burial site, different graves all around, a truly stunning place in Kilmartin in Argyll, a valley full of history, traces of wich still clearly recognizable. People have lived here for 5000 years and you have to think back around 170 generations to be able to put yourself in the context of life and death in those days.
What remains are their graves and the symbols of their power, belief and knowledge.
In the archer’s grave three flintstones and chemical traces of a body have been found. Probably a man, probably a hunter, probably thousands of years dead. Most of it will remain conjecture. Why was he buried with three flintstones used for arrows? So he could hunt and kill in some sort of afterlife? And what would that have looked like according to the imagination of the people that lived here?
A tooth of a small child was found in the other grave. The son or daughter of the dead archer? So was this a family burial ground? Surely these people must have been important. Their graves are elaborate. But who died first? The father or the son? The graves were built over 4000 years ago. In some of them, the remains have been burned before burial. Why those? Had the dead been ill? Or were they special in another way? Their burial site certainly is.
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Scotland is a country full of history, stories and secrets. Often, the three cannot be separated. That is what makes this country so wonderful and unique. The stories of this book have been discovered and gathered for Erkenbach’s blog, Graveyards of Scotland, over many years.
Her main sources were historical travel guides from the 18th and 19th centuries, where the finds were scary, beautiful, funny, and sometimes, cruel.This unusual approach to a country’s history has produced amazing results. You don’t have to share the author’s passion for cemeteries to enjoy this book; only a small number of the stories in this collection take place in graveyards, though they do all end in them, so perhaps it helps.
The fairy hill in Inverness, a nitrate murder on Shetland, a family of left-handers, wolves, Robert the Bruce and William Wallace shown in a new light, the secret bay of the writer Gavin Maxwell, a murdering poet and so many things you didn’t know about Scotland, its clans and its history.