StAnding Stones and stardust

Following the Jacobites and Guardians of Scotland courses it's time for a somewhat lighter journey through very ancient times - right from when the earliest rocks were formed through to the early Bronze Age.

The last two courses were fairly intense in terms quite full coverage of lengthy periods and using lots of original documents. Standing Stones and Stardust has plenty of links and sources for exploring further, but as a course it's much more parceled into look at highlights, which build up an overall picture.


  • Reviewing the development of ancient Atlantic and European cultures across Scotland, Britain and Europe.
  • Using a wide range of evidence, including fossils, carvings, archaeological finds, mythic histories and folklore.
  • Considering and comparing current interpretations of ancient lifestyles.


David Morrison MA (Hons), BSc (Psych) Open (Hons), Dip Lib, MCLIP, MBPsS, FHEA.
Experience: about 20 years lecturing with the Open University.

The course is suitable for any history or archaeology enthusiast - no prior experience called for.

Course Content

Six course booklets including a historical narrative, images and course activities zooming in on particular areas.

Six media pages with video clips, 3D models and explanatory notes.

Six image pages inviting consideration of key debates through interpretation.

Course Outline

From Dinosaurs to Doggerland

A review from the primeval to the early settlers of the Mesolithic. 

The Neolithic Bundle

European lifestyles, migrations and technologies.

The Atlantic Neolithic

Brittany, Ness of Brodgar and Newgrange.

Standing stones and stonehenge

Avebury, Stonehenge and the beginnings of the Bronze Age.

PArt Seen, PArt Imagined

Investigates a series of on-going debates about the ancient Atlantic Fringe.


Questions we'll be looking at along the way include:

  • The origins of European culture and diversity.
  • What do we know about what went on at sites with standing stones.
  • Neolithic monuments - tombs or shrines.
  • The Cailleach or Veiled One and the 'Goddess'.
  • Starting to interpret Ness of Brodgar.
  • Interconnectedness - the 'Neolithic Highway' and the Neolithic 'Motorway/
  • Neolithic ritual life.
  • The mythical 'invasions' of Ireland.
  • Violence and hierarchy in the Neolithic and early Bronze Age.
  • Ancient lifestyles - hard-workers or hippies?

That's not a final list or running order, but clearly there's going to be plenty to chew on.


Primeval life. (Click on any image to see it at full size).

Saltwater Crocodile from 185 Ma from Didier Descouens under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

Ancient technologies . . .

Standing stones . . .

Sacred shrines . . .

And ancient lifestyles . . . 


There are no tests, papers or assessments, but each booklet and the image pages include some quick, optional activities such as investigating a particular original source or evaluating a historical character. There is on-going email support throughout for explanation of the course content and suggesting additional sources.

Facebook has proved a bit problematic for groups and pages, so the plan is to opt for a closed group for course participants only, which will be linked in the first course email. Then, rather than a flurry of posts, I'll set up a weekly discussion with related threads. If course participants have time to comment or post threads the option will be there and I'll chip in.


Online from 1st-29th April 2018 for 2-4+ hours/ week. There is no need to cover everything within that period, as the PDFs, art pages and media pages will remain available. On the 29th the fifth and sixth (investigations) booklets will arrive, but I'll continue answering my email and looking to answer any questions arisng from the course as a whole.

The suggested 2-4+ hours is sufficient to explore the PDF booklets and to scan through linked sites and media. However, by accessing a wide variety of archives and sources the course also opens up a route into much further investigation of the whole period. There will be a double dose once this time with the last two booklets, but the hope is the 'investigations' booklet is something you might be going back to after the course.

Payment Options

The store is set to US currency, but converts automatically to other currencies and works with all the usual major cards or PayPal. Please get in touch if there are any hitches. A direct PayPal is also quick and convenient and I can easily send my email via Facebook if you message the Scottish Media Lab page.

Scottish Media Lab