Student Experience on Pecha Kucha
18/04/2019
Art at the University of Stirling
07/05/2019

Digging Stirling – by Dr Murray Cook, Stirling Council Archaeologist

Creation and identity are bound tight together. Everywhere in Scotland has a unique story, resulting from the interactions and responses of people to their environment, their geography and their history. Millennia of stories, impressions and acts: all creating today’s sense of place. Without an understanding of the past we may as well live anywhere. I’m Stirling Council’s Archaeologist and I believe that an understanding of the past is essential to help create and maintain a sense of place to understand why we are where we are.

Stirling is unique in Britain, no other place has so much history crammed into so small a spot, we have an absolutely astonishing story: one of the best preserved Renaissance Places in Europe, the world’s oldest football, the world’s oldest curling stone, Scotland’s first flight, the two most important battle sin Scottish history, the best preserved medieval city in Scotland, the home of tartan, the coronation place of Mary Queen of Scots, the burial ground of James III and Scotland’s largest pyramid!

But sometimes that past feels alien to us, Kings and Queens, invaders and heroes, big people, nothing to do with us, nothing to do with our lives, dead, distant and gone. The past can seem the preserve of tourists or academics…..Archaeology is a big word that most people can’t even spell. It’s not for the likes of us. If you feel the past is not yours, you can feel a stranger in your own home. But the past is yours and it is your birth right. It is also how we welcome new people to our city, why they come and join us, why they should contribute and add to our story.

My job is to protect and promote Stirling’s past and I believe that this is best done when its citizen’s and taxpayers feel a sense of ownership of our shared past. So I view my job as getting rid of any barriers that prevent people exploring their past. Archaeology is often difficult because it is destructive, holes must be dig, soil turned over, hand must get dirty! But each act of destruction results in the creation of new information, lost and forgotten objects recovered, new connections made, spanning millennia

I organise numerous grassroots volunteer sessions across the year, with schoolchildren and adults. We come together in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere and explore our past make discoveries about ourselves and Stirling. We help to create new understandings of the past and how it became the present. The scale is small = but little and often achieves big results, I have helped to raise over £300,000 pounds and have organised events that over 13,000 people have volunteered or visited. It’s easy and its fun so what’s stopping you? Contact me on cookm@stirling.gov.uk.

This small grey stone is amongst the oldest objects in Scotland, it is older than Skara Brae, Stonehenge and the Pyramids, it was made by the first people in Stirling, but it is not a tool.  It was found by Kevin, next to a 500 year old farm, which was built on top of a 2000 year old broch-like structure on Saturday 29thOctober 2018 at around 11:30 AM, some 7000 years after it was lost!

People digging.
My youngest daughter (Heather Cook) at the Atlantic Wall Replica on Sheriffmuir.