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Prehistoric Scotland

THE primary object of this book is to lay before the public a short account of the methods and means by which archaeologists are endeavouring to elucidate that obscure period in the history of Scotland vaguely defined as the prehistoric. From the very beginning I foresaw that this would be a labour of some difficulty, owing to the varied and comprehensive materials which had to be dealt with. A preliminary coup-d'oeil of the subject disclosed a population occupying a small, but well-defined, geographical area amidst diversified surroundings. As soon, however, as the superficial crust was broken, it became apparent that both people and environments were subject to progressive changes not always emanating from causes inherent to the restricted locality under review. I had thus to look beyond the Scottish area, and to trace these exotic elements to their proper sources. At the present time direct

evidence, either as regards the physical qualities of the people or the fluctuations and peculiarities of their environments during the earlier portion of the prehistoric period, is both scanty and fragmentary. Nor are the stray objects of the less perishable materials, such as stone and metal, altogether unimpeachable witnesses in the inquiry; for even these in many instances, betray their foreign origin. Moreover, the earliest inhabitants were themselves immigrants. These imperfections in the archaeological record had therefore to be considerably supplemented from collateral sources. Thus on all hands the field of inquiry became enlarged in proportion as the materials were carefully scanned. Hence, in the compilation of this work the same ground had to be traversed as if I were engaged in writing an introduction to the prehistoric archaeology of the whole of the British Isles. To bring such diffuse evidence within the narrow compass of one small volume is a kind of tour de force which is bound to disclose many shortcomings and errors of judgment.

From these inherent difficulties in connection with the selection and arrangement of the materials it is pleasant to turn my thoughts to those who have supplied me with so many beautiful illustrations, without which the work would be shorn of much of its value. On this score I have to thank the Councils of the following Societies: Society of Antiquaries of Scotland for most of the woodcuts illustrating the remains of the prehistoric fauna, as well as for a number of other objects, such as the massive bronze armlets, which are peculiar to the Scottish archaeological area; Ayrshire and Galloway Archaeological Association for a considerable number of the woodcuts of stone and bronze implements; Society of Antiquaries of London (figs. 166 and 175-177); Royal Irish Academy (figs. 123 and 162-164); Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland (figs. 141, 211, 213, and 257) I am also indebted (through my publishers) to Messrs Macmillan & Co. for a few woodcuts from Sir Daniel Wilson’s ‘Prehistoric Annals of Scotland’ (figs. 4, 89, 130, 138, 258, and 259), and to John Murray for the illustrations of Maeshowe and New Grange (figs. 192-196) from Fergusson’s ‘Rude Stone Monuments.’ Of the large number of illustrations specially prepared for this work, many are mere sketches taken from objects in various museums, and have no claim to any artistic effect. But, as they are accurate in outline and reduced to a uniform scale, I preferred to retain them in their crude form rather than to have them touched up by a skilled artist. Indeed, a mere outline is all that is necessary for many of the objects which illustrate prehistoric archaeology. On every occasion that I found it necessary or advisable to appropriate the results of other workers I have done so, when practicable, by quoting the ipsissima verba of the authors; and all such obligations arc duly acknowledged in their proper place throughout the work, or in the list of illustrations.

Professor Sir William Turner, F.R.S., has kindly read the proof- sheets of the chapter on Ethnology; and James Macdonald, Esq., LL. D., has done the same for the other chapters. While cordially thanking these gentlemen for their valuable services, I have only to say of each of them, Nihil quod letigit non ornavit.

3rd July 1899.

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