Context for a carnyx: excavation of a long-lived ritual site at Leitchestown, Deskford, Moray, north-east Scotland - NMS Research Repository
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Context for a carnyx: excavation of a long-lived ritual site at Leitchestown, Deskford, Moray, north-east Scotland

Abstract

Excavations at the findspot of the Deskford carnyx, a major piece of Iron Age decorated metalwork found in a bog in the early nineteenth century, revealed a special location with a long history. Early Neolithic activity on the adjacent ridge consisted of massive postholes and pits, suggesting a ceremonial site. An Early Bronze Age cremation became the focus for a feasting event in the Middle Bronze Age. Around this time, peat began to form in the valley, with vessels of pot and wood smashed and deposited there; these activities on ridge and bog may be connected. Activity in the bog intensified in the later Iron Age, when offerings included quartz pebbles, the dismantled carnyx head, and two unusual animal bone deposits. The ridge was cut off at this period by a complex enclosure system. This Iron Age activity is interpreted as communal rituals at a time of increasing social tension. The site’s significance in this period may stem from its unusual landscape character, with flowing water to one side and a bog to the other. The area saw occasional activity in the Early Medieval period, but its significance had waned.

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