The opening event of the History Society’s 2017/08 programme was an interesting, and beautifully delivered, talk by Joana Valdez-Tullett from Historic Environment Scotland.
Originally from Portugal, Joana studied for a PhD at Southampton University before joining Scotland’s Rock Art Project (ScRAP), which is hosted by Historic Environment Scotland and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council with specialist inputs from the University of Edinburgh and Glasgow School of Art.
Rock art is arguably one of the most fascinating and enigmatic aspects of our past and Joana started with a wide ranging examination of prehistoric paintings and carvings extant across the world before concentrating on Scotland where there is limited awareness and understanding of rock art. The ScRAP project is a five-year programme which aims to correct this deficiency by working with local communities to record, research, and raise awareness of Scotland’s prehistoric rock carvings. Since its discovery in the 19th century, Scotland’s rock art has captured the imagination and led to many theories about when and why it was made, and who created it. These are challenging topics to which there are still very few answers.
Joana explained that the aim of the project is to make a detailed and consistent record of around 2000 known carvings using a text-based recording form, conventional photography and 3-D photography as well as adding details of any previously ‘undiscovered’ rock art. The recording methods will build on previous experience in similar projects, and on the expertise of specialist staff. The information will be used for research during the project, and will be publicly accessible for future study, education and public awareness.
As Joana highlighted, community involvement lies at the heart of ScRAP, and the project is now recruiting people with an interest in rock art or archaeology who might like to help. Everyone and anyone with an interest in rock art or the historic landscape can be involved. There are many different ways in which to participate, such as archival research, fieldwork to locate and record known sites or look for new sites, photography and 3D photography (photogrammetry), analysis of the records, stone carving workshops to make replica rock art, discussions on what rock art means to different people, and get-togethers to share results and ideas.
Participants can do as much or as little as they want, depending on their interests.
The project team will provide expert training, guidance and support, so no previous experience is necessary. For an insight into what is involved the North of Scotland Archaeology Society, which is already involved in the project, has produced a very useful blog to be found at: https://nosasblog.wordpress.com/…/scotlands-rock-art-project-scrap-progress-so-far/
Although their website is still being developed, for more information, the project team can be contacted at