Each month, this website features various information resources to explore the Saints and Stones of England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. Below, please find past resources pages.
January 2021 Resources
February 2021 Resources
March 2021 Resources
April 2021 Resources
May 2021 Resources
June 2021 Resources
July-August 2021 Resources
Books: This website has added two important resource guides for those visiting the Saints and Stones of England, Scotland, and Wales. Added to each England, Scotland, and Wales Saints Resources page is a 2020 publication of the British Pilgrimage Trust, Britain's Pilgrim Places. The book covers 500 holy places and 48 major pilgrimage routes in the UK. Added to each England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland Stones Resources page is a 2018 publication, The Old Stones: A Field Guide to the Megalithic Sites of Britain and Ireland. The latter, which covers over 1,000 of British and Irish prehistoric places, was judged the Current Archaeology Book of the Year in 2019.
Publications: Highly recommended to the readers of this website is the bi-monthly publication, Scottish Islands Explorer, which, as its titles indicates, contains timely and enjoyable information about the many islands off the mainland of Scotland, and may be subscribed to for hard copies or received digitally at a reduced price.
Websites and Blogs: Readers are encouraged to click onto to the highly regarded blog of inveterate traveller to Scotland, Washington State resident Marc Calhoun. His blog, Exploring the Islands of the West: Journeys to the Western Islands of Scotland, chronicles his many visits since his first to Iona in 1988.
Podcasts: Viewers of this website may be interested in several podcasts that deal with the Saints and Stones of England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. Neil Oliver's Love Letter to the British Isles is the weekly podcast of the well-known Scottish archaeologist, author, and tv presenter of programs on the BBC. His podcasts are based on his 2018 book, The Story of the British Isles in 100 Places. Rupert Soskin and Michael Bott of Standing with Stones fame present The Prehistory Guys monthly. Each podcast interviews a prominent archaeologist. Lastly, the Thin Places Travel Podcast is presented by tour guide Mindie Burgoyne. In each episode she interviews authors and travel guides who take the listener to Saints and Stones sites in Ireland.
Passings: Tim Severin, a British adventurer who for 40 years meticulously replicated the journeys of real and mythic explorers, died on December 18, 2020 at his home in West Cork, Ireland. He was 80. One of his most famous journeys was the Brendan Voyage in 1976-1977. Convinced that the seven-year voyage across the Atlantic Ocean by St. Brendan, who lived between 489 and 583 A.D., was not just a legend, Severin and his four crew built a replica of Brendanâ€™s currach using traditional materials of wood and ox hides and launched it from Brandon Creek on the Dingle Peninsula on the west coast of Ireland. Sailing 4,500 miles (7,200 km) from Ireland to Newfoundland with stops in the Hebrides, the Faroe Islands, and Iceland en route, the journey was completed in 1977. Severin later wrote a book about the voyage entitled The Brendan Voyage: Sailing to America in a Leather Boat to Prove the Legend of the Irish Sailor Saints. A film of the voyage was made later, and it may be viewed on YouTube where it is divided into two parts: Part One and Part Two.
Additional Information: The six 2020 Rhind Lectures have been posted to youtube. This year's lectures, Neolithic Scotland: The Big Picture and Detailed Narratives in 2020, were delivered by Dr. Alison Sheridan, a British archaeologist who was Principal Curator of Early Prehistory at National Museums Scotland, where she worked from 1987 to 2019 in Edinburgh. Here is a link to the first lecture. The remaining five lectures may be accessed on the youtube website. To make the lectures more enjoyable and eliminate the bothersome ads that pop up at the worst times, go to the website viewpure.com, where you simply add the youtube URL of the site you are watching and can watch the programs without interruptions.
Books: Wild Ruins B.C.: The Explorer's Guide to Britain's Ancient Sites is an important resource guide for those visiting the Saints and Stones of England, Scotland, and Wales. As such, it has been added to each England, Scotland, and Wales Stones Resources page oin this website. The book by Dave Hamilton covers a variety pf megalithic sites throughout Britain "from the first human footprints of 800,000 years ago, to ancient axe factories, rock art, stone circles, mountain burials, sunset hill forts, lost villages and temples to the dead." Most valuable for the visitor are his elaborate instructions on how to get to the sites.
Publications: Current Archaeology is a publication that is highly recommended to the readers of this website. Published monthly, it focuses almost exclusively on the archaeology of Britain. Individual copies may be found in bookstores. Subscriptions to the hard copy version are available, as are digital monthly or yearly subscriptions from Exact Editions, which includes access to the 50 year back issues of this magazine. Some current articles are free on the magazine's website. Sample of Past Issues.
Websites and Blogs: The North Atlantic Arc is a personal chronicle of the travels of Massachusetts resident Mr Tattie Heid across the arc of the North Atlantic, from eastern Canada to northwestern Europe, with a particular focus on Scotland. It consists of daily journals and photographs of landscapes and townscapes, ancient monuments from the neolithic to the medieval, great churches and Scotch whisky distilleries, and whatever else catches his eye. According to the author, "There just might be a pub or two along the way." Great writing and wonderful photos. Highly recommended to readers of this website.
Podcasts: This website recommends A History of England in 100 Places, a podcast that steps "back in time to the very roots of our national identity to bring you the people and the stories that have helped shape England," many of which highlight the Saints and Stones of England. Specifically, we recommend the latest series on Faith and Belief, which covers such Saints sites are Lindisfarne, Fountains Abbey, and St. Martin's Church in Canterbury, among others. Here is an example podcast: Stonehenge, Lindisfarne, and a Holy Well.
Organizations: Readers are directed to the Caithness Broch Project, an organization dedicated to "Promoting, preserving and ensuring a lasting legacy for the archaeology of Caithness" in Northern Scotland. The Project has several goals: "promotion and signage of existing Caithness archaeological sites, authentic building of an Iron Age broch, and running the broch as a tourist attraction." Two organizers of the project were recently interviewed on the The Prehistory Guys podcast and also appeared in an Orkney Archaeology Society sponsored online talk last month. If interested, you can support the Caithness Broch Project by becoming a Member or a Friend of the Project.
Videos: Ocassionally, this website will feature a link to a video that pertains to the Saints and Stones of England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. This month we feature a short video by Dig Ventures entitled Lindisfarne Before and After the Viking Raids. For more on the orgnization and their many projects including the one on Lindisfarne, see their website.
Books: This website recommends Digging Up Britain: Ten Discoveries, a Million Years of History, which traces the history of Britain through key discoveries and excavations. With British archaeologist Mike Pitts as a guide, this book covers the most exciting excavations of the past ten years. The book relates firsthand stories from the people who dug up the remains. Each chapter of the book tells the story of a single excavation or discovery from such sites as Star Carr, Gough's Cave, and Stonehenge. Pitts has been the long-time editor of editor of British Archaeology magazine.
Publications: British Archaeology, a bi-monthly publication of the Council for British Archaeology (CBA), looks in depth at the latest archaeology news, discoveries and research within the UK and from British Archaeologists working overseas. Both print and digital editions of the magazine are included with membership in the CBA. In addition, membership includes a searchable back library of previous issues. To become a member, go to the CBA membership page.
Websites and Blogs: The Hazel Tree is a blog written by Jo Woolf, who lives by the sea in Argyll, Scotland, where she writes mostly about landscape, nature and history - in particular the many ancient sites such as standing stones, rock carvings, and early chapels that are scattered around the Scottish west coast and its islands. Highly recommended to readers of this website. Great writing and wonderful photos from that part of the world.
Podcasts: This website recommends two excellent podcasts this month. The first podcast comes from British broascaster Melvyn Bragg's excellent long-running radio program, In Our Time and is a discussion of the life of St. Cuthbert, one of the most venerated English saints who evangelized Northumbria. The second comes from the Thin Places Travel Podcast and features Martin Byrne speaking about the Carrowkeel Megalithic Complex near his home in County Sligo.
Organizations: This website highly endorses the work of the Orkney Archaeology Society, which supports the management and development of the amazing archaeological and historical resources in Orkney. The Society provides information on archaeological activity through publications and in-person and online meetings and events. The Society also runs an online shop with books and locally made craft items. Readers are encouraged to join the Society. Information on membership and current activities of the Society may be found online. Funds raised through membership, shop sales, and donations are used to award archaeological grants for projects in Orkney such as the major dig at the Ness of Brodgar. Also see the Society's Facebook page for additional information.
Videos: Current Archaeology Live! 2021 will run from March 5 to March 7 this year, a week later than originally slated. This year it will be, of course, a virtual event. Readers can view the various presentations by leading archaeological experts from across the UK on Current Archaeology's YouTube site. According to the magazine, the presentations will be availble for free on the above dates. List of Speakers. It is not clear if they will be available after the event.
Archaeological Course: Readers are direted to a wonderful opportunity to take a free archaeological course from the University of York in England. The four week course, Exploring Stone Age Archaeology: The Mysteries of Star Carr, is for anyone with an interest in the past and archaeology. There are no requirements except interest. For more information and to register, please go to the link above.
Books: This website recommends Hidden Histories: A Spotter's Guide to the British Landscape by well-known British TV presenter Mary Ann Ochota. Wherever you go in Britain there is history woven into the landscape around you in the shape of a field, the wall of a cottage, a standing stone or churchyard, even in the grass under your feet. And there are literally thousands of sites scattered across the country that do not have tickets and tour guides, but are waiting to reveal their secrets. This book arms the explorer with the crucial information needed to "read" the landscape and spot the human activities that have shaped Britain. Helpful photographs and diagrams point out specific details and typical examples to help you understand what you are looking at, or looking for. A very interesting and useful book.
Publications: Archaeology Ireland, which is published quarterly, provides the reader with a constant stream of articles, news and features, covering many areas in archaeology including science, art, architecture, history, geography, economics, sociology, anthropology, religion and more on the Emerald Isle. Both print and digital subscriptions are available. Each issue carries a detailed heritage guide of a major Irish archeological site, free to subscribers only.
Websites and Blogs: Sli Cholmcille: St. Columba's Trail. Sli means "way," and Sli Cholmcille explores the language and heritage of Ireland and Scotland through the life of Colmcille or St. Columba. It is a trail of many sites associated with the saint and his followers, linking Gaelic-speaking communities in the two countries. The website is a project developed by Colmcille, an initiative named after the saint. It was set up in 1997, a year which saw commemorations of the 1400th anniversary of the death of St Columba. In addition, the project is currently celebrating Colmcille1500, the life and legacy of St. Columba 1500 years from his birth. The 7th of December is the traditional birthday of the saint, and the commemoration opened officially on the 7th December 2020 and extends with events and celebrations throughout 2021.
Podcasts: Just off the British coast is a sunken world that was once the hub of mesolithic Europe.The first podcast this website recommends for April comes from British TV prresenter Dan Snow's History Hit podcast and is entitled The Lost World of Doggerland. Professor Simon Fitch, a specialist in Archaeological Sciences, joins Snow for this podcast. The second recommended podcast is from History Extra. Hear author Max Adams discussing his book The First Kingdom, Britain in the Age of Arthur, which pieces together the evidence to uncover what happened after the fall of Roman Britain in the podcast The Dark Ages: A "Black Hole" in Britain's History.
Organizations: The British Archaeological Association was founded in 1843 for the study of archaeology, art, and architecture, and to promote the preservation of historic monuments and antiquities. It exists to enhance understanding of the material culture of Europe and the Mediterranean, especially in Britain. An example of its work is the recent conference co-sponsored with English Heritage and held in January 2021 that focused on Aelred, Abbot of Rievaulx Abbey between 1147 and 1167 A.D.
Videos: The recently released Netflix film The Dig tells the story of the the events of the 1939 excavation at Sutton Hoo, an Anglo-Saxon burial ground in Suffolk that unearthed a ship buried with a wealth of artefacts. Some have called it "the greatest treasure ever discovered in the UK." The National Trust of the UK has released a short video, Unearth the Real Story of Sutton Hoo, that goes behind the scenes. Lastly, the Time Team youtube website has an interview with Author John Preston, whose book the film was based upon. As this website has pointed out in previous homepages, to make youtube videos more enjoyable and eliminate the bothersome ads that pop up at the worst times, go to the website viewpure.com, where you simply add the youtube URL of the site you are watching and can watch the programs without interruptions.
Books: The Road Wet, the Wind Close: Celtic Ireland by James Charles Roy. If I had to suggest books to read about the saints and stones of Ireland, this work no doubt would be on my list if not at the top of my list. Roy explores early Irish history from the island's first inhabitants around 7000 B.C. to the Norman invasion of A.D. 1169. Beautifully written, Roy combines scholarship with personal reminiscence and contemporary interviews to give a well-rounded portrait of the Celtic past and its hold on the present. Each chapter focuses on a particular geographical or archaeological site and examines the entire historical period the site represents. Highly recommended.
Publications: History Scotland. Scottish Archaeology is prominently featured in this publication, providing the reader with the latest Scottish archaeology news, including dig reports and finds analysis. In addition, archaeology volunteer opportunities, courses and summer schools, and onsite and online events, and recommded books are found on its website. Subscribing to this bi-monthly publication comes with exclusive access to online history, archaeology and heritage articles, interviews and more.
Websites and Blogs: The main goal of the The British Pilgrimage Trust, founded in 1914, is "to advance British pilgrimage as a form of cultural heritage that promotes holistic wellbeing, for the public benefit." According to the BPT "'Holistic wellbeing' includes physical, mental, emotional, social, community, environmental and spiritual health, and we aim to make these benefits accessible to wide new audiences. Pilgrimage has the potential to promote community and diversity in Britain's spiritual landscape." The BPT welcomes members. In 2019, it published its first book: Britain's Pilgrim Places, a great work covering more than 500 enchanting holy places, all 48 major pilgrimage routes, and every medieval cathedral in the U.K.
Podcasts: The great passage tomb of Newgrange in the Boyne Valley of County Meath is one of Ireland's most iconic monuments. A World Heritage Site, it is one of the most visited monuments by people from all over the world. This Amplify Archaeology podcast features Dr. Jessica Smyth of the University College Dublin discussing Newgrange & Neolithic Ireland. Our second presentation is an English Heritage Voices of England podcast that features trustee Professor Ronald Hutton of the University of Bristol on the legacy of pre-Christian beliefs. Discover what the earliest settlers in England believed, the evidence that can still be found in our historic landscapes, our ancient ritual monuments and our language, and how the arrival of Christianity changed English society as a whole in this podcast, How pre-Christian Beliefs Shaped Our Landscape, Landmarks and Language.
Organizations: In 2012, Dig Ventures launched the world's first-ever crowdfunded and crowdsourced archaeological excavation at Flag Fen, a Bronze Age wetlands site and Scheduled Ancient Monument near Peterborough, UK. It was a huge success, raising a worldwide community of over 250 citizen archaeologists and enough monetary contributions to run an internationally-important collaborative archaeological research project. Since then, the organization has run over 40 projects and grown its community each year. A current online course offered by the organizayoion may be of interest. See How to Do Archaeology.
Art/Photography: Aidan Hart, a member of the Greek Orthodox Church living in Britain, has been a full-time icon painter and carver for over twenty-five years. He has worked in more than twenty countries of the world and in many cathedrals and monasteries. According to Hart, "his aim, in accordance with the Byzantine icon tradition, is to make liturgical art that manifests the world transfigured in Christ." He has given this website permission to link to his site, Aidan Hart Sacred Icons, which contains a variety of beautiful icons. In particular, the reader is directed to the section of his website featuring Western Saints, many of whom are connected to the Saints Sites visited in England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland.
Videos: Land, Sea and Sky: The Archaeology of Coasts and Islands was a 2020 conference sponsored by Archaeology Ireland that explores the archaeology and settlement of islands, coastal areas, and the sea that links them. The conference also exploreed the connections of archaeological heritage with local and coastal communities and its role in establishing a sense of place. Five different sessions are available for viewing online. Presentation List.
Books: Orcadia: Land, Sea and Stone in Neolithic Orkney by Mark Edmonds. The Orcadian archipelago is a museum of archaeological wonders. Its largest island, Mainland, is home to some of the oldest and best-preserved Neolithic sites in Europe, the most famous of which are the passage grave of Maeshowe, the megaliths of Stenness, the Ring of Brodgar and the village of Skara Brae. Following a broadly chronological narrative, and highlighting different lines of evidence as they unfold, Mark Edmonds traces the development of the Orcadian Neolithic from its beginnings in the early fourth millennium BC through to the end of the period nearly two thousand years later.
Publications: Orkney Islander. Orkney has been named the "best place to live in the UK" for the past eight years. This publication, produced by The Orcadian newspaper in Orkney's main town, Kirkwall, is a wealth of information on the archipelago's history, archaeology, and wildlife, as well as individual capsules of the main islands. As it is supported by advertisements, the publication gives the reader a feel for various skills and occupations of its residents. The archeology section (pp.58ff) covers the main digs currently on Orkney.
Websites and Blogs: A wealth of Orkney information may be found on Orkneyjar: The Heritage of the Orkney Islands, a privately-run, non-profit website, created and maintained by Orcadian Sigurd Towrie. Begun in 1997 to provide a platform to publish the numerous articles on Orcadian history and heritage that Towrie had written over the years, it is highly recommended.
Podcasts: The podcast recommended for June 2021, Neil Oliver's Love Letter to the British Isles, turns the British Isles upside down! Travelling to Orkney, off the northeast tip of Scotland, he uncovers ancient burial tombs and ceremonial halls, and gives us a glimpse of an influential powerhouse long hidden by time. As he tells the story of the profound changes this once formidable center of influence has undergone, he unravels the lessons history tells us and the pointers it gives to what may lay ahead in the future in Hidden Power: The Ness of Brodgar, Orkney.
Organizations: University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute is a world-class teaching and research organization dedicated to advancing our understanding of the historic environment through the creation, interpretation, and dissemination of archaeological knowledge. Its website, Archaeology Orkney, periodically issues information on ongoing published research in Orkney. In addition, the Institute has a blog that you can subscribe to.
Addendum: The reader is encouraged to once again visit a great Orkney resource that was highlighted on our March 2021 Homepage: Orkney Archaeological Society (OAS). The OAS has recently issued its annual publication for this year, the Orkney Archaeological Review 2021.
Videos: Orkney archaeologist Martin Carruthers of the University of the Highlands and Islands gave an online talk in April sponsored by the Orkney Archaeological Society about The Cairns, the dig he directs on South Ronaldsay. Titled The Life and Times of The Cairns: A Thousand Years of Living at a Broch Settlement, it is available on the Orkney Archaeological Society YouTube website.
Books: In Search of Angels: Travels to the Edge of the World by Alistair Moffat. In this book, the author journeys from the island of Eileach an Naoimh in the Garvellachs at the mouth of the Firth of Lorne to Lismore, Iona, and then north to Applecross, searching for traces of Irish saints Brendan, Moluag, Columba, Maelrubha, and others. He finds them not often in any tangible remains, but in the spirit of the islands and remote places where they passed their exemplary lives.
Publications: Historic Research England is a digital magazine produced by Historic England about the organization's work and work it funds to support the protection and management of the historic environment. The latest issue may be downloaded as a free PDF magazine. A special issue was published in 2020: Historic England Research Issue 16 focuses on archaeological research carried out or supported by Historic England.
Websites and Blogs: Well-known to the archaeological world, the Megalithic Portal was founded in 2001 by Andy Burnham, who still leads the effort. It is run by a team of voluntary editors and site administrators with input and contributions from thousands of photographers, archaeologists, locals, and visitors. The site's web resource runs on its own server with a huge database, maps, and image library and costs a significant amount to keep running long term. You can show your support by joining up as a Contributory Member, which gives you full membership in the Megalithic Portal Society. Well worth the 10 GBP per year, or equivalent in your currency. Membership Benefits. Burnham is also editor of The Old Stones, the Current Archaeology magazine Book of the Year in 2019. Note: If you are using VPN and have difficulty accessing the site, please disable your VPN.
Podcasts: Our podcast for this month presents The Prehistory Guys and their guest, Dr. Alison Sheridan, recently retired Principal Archaeological Research Curator at the National Museums of Scotland, speaking on the "Neolithization of Britain." Her special area is the crossover period between the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods in Britain and Ireland. In this interview you'll find out what makes her thesis on how the Neolithic 'package' made it across from the continent 6,000 years ago both compelling and controversial.
Organizations: The aims of Vindolanda Charitable Trust, founded in the spring of 1970, were for making the structures and artefacts available to the interested public, especially educational groups, and for engaging with people from all walks of life. Today, its vision is to excavate and preserve the Roman remains in the Trust's ownership in the central sector of the Hadrian's Wall World Heritage Site. The highlight of the Trust's blog is the presentation of the amazing finds from its many years of excavation.
Art-Photography: Jim Richardson is a well-known photographer for National Geographic magazine and a contributing editor for its sister publication, TRAVELER magazine. He has photographed more than fifty stories for National Geographic. He has given us permission to link to his website and its photography, which gives the viewer a look at the lives of the inhabitants of Scotland and the Celtic areas and the lands they live in. His photographs are terrific.
Videos: We present two videos this month - one short and one a bit longer, but both excellent presentations. The first Clava Cairns, Scotland is a 4K aerial film of amazing Bronze Age burial chambers. Presented by Megalithomania, this short video focuses on the Clava cairn, a type of Bronze Age circular chamber tomb cairn, named after the group of three cairns at Balnuaran of Clava, to the east of Inverness in Scotland. There are about 50 cairns of this type in an area round about Inverness. The second video is entitled Dunnicaer - An Archaeological Investigation. On the coast of Aberdeenshire lies the spectacular Dunnottar Castle, a 7th Century A.D. Pictish power center. Nearby is Dunnicaer, an unassuming and substantially eroded sea stack that contains evidence to suggest it was an even earlier power center of the Picts. This film explores the investigations conducted by Aberdeen University into the site and helps uncover its mysterious past. Enjoy.