7. Conclusions

Although the Warren Field pit alignment is not a visually striking monument in the manner of Göbekli Tepe in Turkey (Schmidt 2010, fig. 3), the implications of the existence of this structure, and other comparators, are equally important given their potential use not simply for astronomic alignment, but as a continuous 'time reckoning' device dating to the early 8th millennium BC (Figure 20). Their presence suggests that pre-agricultural societies in north-east Scotland, at least, clearly perceived the need to create a sense of time through the construction of monuments. They also possessed an understanding of the need to compensate for the seasonal drift associated with the annual succession of lunar synodic months. The reasons behind such a requirement may not have been simple. Given the hunter-gatherer context it is probable that scheduling of resources may have been an important consideration in the creation of the pit alignment and the adjacent river may well have been an important factor in this development (Warren 2005). The density of Mesolithic finds in the area suggests that this particular stretch of the Dee valley was an optimal area for hunter-gatherer settlement and at this period the seasonal availability of food resources must have underpinned the settlement pattern.

Figure 20: Animation of virtual model showing the midwinter solstice viewed from the Warren Field pit group.

However, a direct economic interpretation of the data may be too prosaic as a full explanation of the Warren Field pit group. The seasonal availability of game may equally have been explained by the hunter-gatherers of the Dee valley to have been a consequence of the passage of time itself and this may have been linked intimately to the arcane control of the moon and the sun through built monuments such as that at Warren Field. Who watched the skies, observed the passing of time and the movement of any planetary deities we cannot yet tell, although evidence for individuals with special status has been recovered at Mesolithic sites in Europe (Porr and Alt 2006). Certainly, the contents of the pits hint strongly at repeated ceremonies involving fire and the deposition of unusual materials within the features (Murray et al. 2009, 14), while the longevity of the monument also suggests that special knowledge associated with the pit arrangement appears to have been curated and maintained over a significant time. The recutting of the pits four thousand years later need not indicate that the monument was used or understood in the same way throughout the Mesolithic or at a later date by Neolithic farmers, but the evidence is highly suggestive that the structure retained some level of sanctity while the importance of the moon was recognised regionally through the construction of later recumbent stone circles.

The Warren Field site, best described, as the original authors emphasised, as a Mesolithic monument rather than a simple pit alignment (Murray et al. 2009, 20-9), currently represents a point near the beginning of conceptual time in this part of Scotland at least. Indeed, on the available evidence the site represents the earliest example of a built structure that appeared to have functioned not as a simple link to observed astronomic events, but as a calendrical tool that guided action within the present and also anticipated time to come. In this sense Warren Field illustrates one important step towards the formal construction of time and therefore history itself.


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