is significant that the three figures which represent the Bronze
Age in the Portrait Gallery Processional Frieze are all male,
obviously warriors, bearing metal weapons, and wear garments
made from woven cloth and personal ornaments.
craft of metalworking spread across Europe around 2000 BC and
the first evidence of its use is of bronze and copper objects
amongst the Beaker peoples who colonised the eastern parts of
Scotland. How far these people brought the craft with them as
they migrated in successive waves, or whether metal weapons, tools
and jewellery arrived initially by trade is not clear.
is associated very closely with the Celtic peoples who spread
out from Central Europe to migrate to all parts of the British
Isles. They are generally described as a flamboyant, warlike
people. At least their leaders were so, a warrior aristocracy,
who were fond of wearing elaborate jewellery as a symbol of
status and wealth, and who produced and used efficient deadly
weapons of bronze, a durable alloy of copper and tin.
a culture was conducive to the creation of fine objects of craftsmanship
in the new medium and to the development of technology to enable
processing of even higher quality metals. Out of these skills
eventually came the working of iron.
it seems likely that the population expansions which took place
had causes more closely related to agricultural concerns. The
climate of Europe was becoming colder and wetter and land less
easily cultivable. For this reason not only would there have been
greater conflict over existing land, but colonisation of new areas
would have become more necessary. Improved metal tools aided the
processes of clearing land of forest, of tilling and of harvesting
Scotland, the early Bronze Age was a time when settlements were
established further up into the straths and glens and away from
original settlements on the coastal plains. Some social habits
changed too. The great stone circles continued into the early
part of the Bronze Age, but new burial customs came to exist alongside
the chambered cairns. These were almost certainly linked to new
forms of religion brought by the Celtic immigrants.
became the norm, at least in Eastern Scotland. Cemeteries of cinerary
urns, pottery vessels differently shaped from the beakers, and
used to hold the ashes of the dead, have been discovered in the
Lothians, Fife, Perthshire and Aberdeenshire, dating from about
the later Bronze Age also date some of the great defensive structures
of Scotland, the hill forts which appear in a variety forms, the
duns and vitrified forts. Almost every part of the country has
some examples of these.
feature of archaeology from this period is the existence of the
rare phenomenon of the rock-carvings called cup and ring marks.
Like the stone henges, their purpose is uncertain but is almost
certain to have had a religious significance. Certainly the availability
of metal tools would have made the fine carving more possible
around 300 BC peoples who used the new metal, iron, reached Scotland.
Bronze was a hard metal able to be tempered easily but the copper
and tin from which it was made were rare and therefore expensive.
Iron, though softer, was abundant, especially in the British Isles.
Once technological advances had allowed it to be smelted to a
sufficient strength not to bend under use, it superseded bronze
as the medium par excellence for weapons and tools, although bronze,
with gold, remained popular for jewellery and other ornamental
to Scottish History