Bronze Age Bute

The Bronze age spanned about 1500 years from around 2200 to 700 BC. A number of changes mark the transition from the Neolithic Period ; these include the introduction of bronze metalwork, different pottery styles and new burial practices.

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A stone mould for a Bronze Age axe

Bronze Age burials became individual, either in the form of a cremation or an interment, with the body placed in a cist (a type of box built of stone slabs). The dead were interred with grave goods such as food vessels, tools or jewellery. These cists have been found under specially constructed mounds such as those at Scalpsie Bay and Ambrisbeg. Others had been inserted into existing Neolithic monuments such as those at Glenvoidean and Cairnbaan. The most accessible site is Scalspsie Barrow which is situated beside the road, at the parking place at Scalpsie Bay. This mound was excavated for the first time over 100 years ago and the finds went to the National Museum of Scotland but are currently on loan to Bute Museum. A recent re-excavation by Paul Duffy discovered a Bronze Age beaker missed by Professor Bryce during his earlier excavation.

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Scalpsie Barrow in the course of excavation

The museum has an excellent collection of Bronze Age pottery from sites around the island. Food vessels from Kildavanan, Ascog, Little Kilmory, Craignethan and Kilmichael are displayed together and the shapes and decoration can be compared.

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A food vessel unearthed at Kildavanan