Menu Travels in Time

Welcome to the
North-Western Edge of Europe

And welcome in particular to three places strung out along the western Atlantic rim.


Mayo in the west of Ireland, Mid-Argyll on the west coast of Scotland, and Vestvågøy, Norway well inside the Arctic Circle.

You are invited to explore the landscape and archaeology of these three places, Discover the signposts of the peoples who helped shape the landscapes that we see today.

What can we learn about these human lives and the organisation of their society? In particular, to understand this we must ask who had power and how did they exercise it? How did they obtain and keep hold of power, and how did it shape their society? How was this power reflected in the landscape they moulded, in the monuments and artefacts and writings they left behind?

These societies were not static. Over the centuries great changes took place, in technology, in social organisation and in religious belief. How did these changes occur, and what brought them about? And in the face of such changes, what remained constant?

The modern imagination sees the world as a series of distinct and self-contained countries, often separated by seas and oceans. But for most of human history the reverse is true. It was easier in the first millennium to travel by boat than by land. So the sea was not something that separated one country from another; it connected places to each other. It was a sea-road, a bridge between peoples and languages and cultures.

Along the sea-roads we will see how ideas and languages were carried great distances by traders, farmers, monks, and warriors linking Mayo, Kilmartin and Borg together.

We will see how changes in technology brought about change in a whole society. The discovery of iron-working, for example, enabled new power structures to emerge. The advanced keel of a ship allowed raiders to attack their victims faster and more fiercely. For modern comparison, think how the splitting of the atom changed the world, giving vast power to those who could use this new technology for military purposes.

But changes were driven not only by technology. There were changes in thought too: the spread of Christianity for example, the rise of kingship, the writing down of laws. All these things caused transformations in people's lives. Ideas were also easily transported along the sea-roads, along with gold, slaves, glass and other commodities.

We can learn to read these landscapes, rich in monuments by which men and women expressed their deepest beliefs. We can read the archaeological remains, the artefacts and the debris of their lives, which can speak to us today of their ordinary struggles and celebrations. We can read their own writings, and the writings of their contemporaries. Slowly and tentatively, we can piece together pictures of the communities who lived here, and begin to understand them, and perhaps even to bridge the sea of history which stands between us.

We can travel in time.

Mayo - Vestvågøy - Mid-Argyll

Travels in Time | Overview | Themes |

Timelines | 700BC to 0 | 0 to 800AD | 800AD to 1100AD |

Landscape | Mayo | Vestvågøy | Mid-Argyll | Archaeology |

Other Media | Education | Exhibition | Publication |

Information | Bibliography | Project | Links | Contact |

This project has been supported by the EU as part of the Culture 2000 programme.


JavaScript © David J. Bradshaw -