Pilgrim Badge impressions

Beliefs and Festivals

Pilgrim Badge impressions

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Artist’s reconstruction of the cremation ceremony at Eweford West by David Hogg © Society of Antiquaries of Scotland/David Hogg

By around 4,000BC people had begun to farm the land, raise animals and make pottery. This new way of life also saw changes in the ways people made their mark on the land. Large ceremonial monuments were built for feasting or gathering of animals or for celebrating the dead. These monuments are some of the first great changes made to the landscape. People honoured special places to remember their ancestors.

Burial urns being excavated at Thurston Manor near Innerwick © NP Archaeology/Wardell Armstrong

Later in the Bronze Age (2,500-800BC) people buried cremation urns beneath mounds or cairns, returning the dead to the land. Around East Linton, just before the River Tyne meets the sea, is a prehistoric landscape of festivals and commemoration.

People’s beliefs and values continued to be impressed onto the landscape as generation suceeded generation. This is shown by the remarkable Roman altars found at Lewisvale Park, Musselburgh and the Early Christian monasteries and pilgrim routes across East Lothian.

Eweford East

Artist’s reconstruction showing the building of the monument at Eweford East by David Hogg© Society of Antiquaries of Scotland/David Hogg

Today, the A1 is our main route through East Lothian. It links villages with the city and leads from Scotland into England. Excavations along the road in 2002 and 2004 showed how prehistoric people were linked to the landscape through commemoration, celebration and working the land. At Eweford people built a large monument over a period of 600 years, with a path between parallel oak posts and wooden screens which led to a large timber circle.

Perhaps the lines were for ceremonial processions and the circle used for rites of passage? Eventually the monument was destroyed by fire. Maybe this reflects a change in beliefs or a new generation come to power?

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