The people of the Oban Caves: an archaeological detective story
Angela Boyle and Alison Sheridan
LAHS extra winter lecture : 24th February 2024 –
Alternative venue : The Studio, Corran Halls, Oban from 2.30 pm.
All are welcome, ENTRY BY DONATION FROM ALL .. this is an extra event from our normal winter lecture series
image : Workmen excavating MacArthur Cave, 1895. Society of Antiquaries of Scotland collection, ©HES
Human remains have been turning up in caves in and around Oban since the late 19 th century, and these remains, along with the artefacts found in the caves, have had a major influence on the definition of the Mesolithic (Middle Stone Age) in Scotland. Recent research – and in particular, DNA analysis and radiocarbon dating has, however, revolutionised our understanding of the people who were buried in these caves (and in the rock shelter at Carding Mill Bay), and has revealed that these caves were used at several different periods in the past. In this lecture, osteologist Dr Angela Boyle and archaeologist Dr Alison Sheridan take stock of what is known about these fascinating sites and the people buried in them, and tell some of the stories that have been emerging.
Mesolithic antler harpoon heads from MacArthur Cave. Reproduced by permission of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland
Dr Angela Boyle is an osteologist with over 30 years’ experience in dealing with archaeological human remains. Her 2022 PhD thesis at the University of Edinburgh, Cowboys and Indians? A biocultural study of violence and conflict in south-east
Scotland c AD 400 to c AD 800, examined evidence for inter-personal conduct during the Early Medieval period in south-east Scotland. She has recently completed an osteological review of the collections of British archaeological human remains
held by National Museums Scotland.
Dr Alison Sheridan is emerita Principal Curator of Early Prehistory in the Department of Scottish History and Archaeology, National Museums Scotland. She specialises in the Neolithic (New Stone Age), Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age period and, until her retirement in October 2019, was responsible for curating the prehistoric human remains collection in that Department of NMS.