News, stories and reports from Forestry Commission Scotland and the National Forest Estate

Art and archaeology in Scotland’s woodlands

Scotland's woodlands are home to many treasured species and places – including many historic and archaeological features with an abundance of colourful, incredible and tragic stories to tell, from as far back as the last ice age right up to the 20th Century.

Our historic environment programme includes a wide range of sustainable conservation management from path repair on ancient duns and hillforts to masonry consolidation of 18th century military bridges. But we also find time to celebrate our cultural heritage – and always try to find creative ways to do so...

Achlain Bridges

Firecracker Recordings is a small independent record label based in Edinburgh. We asked them to investigate a very particular and innovative aspect of Scotland's vibrant culture and heritage. Archaeological measured survey is at the forefront of many exciting new technologies – and we hoped to use National Forest Estate sites and surveys to demonstrate archaeology's potential within Scotland's creative industry. Taking archaeology as its reference point, 'Mac-talla Nan Creag' (The Echo) is an album of shamanic and folk inspired electronica with stunning screen-printed artwork and an insert booklet of our own laser scan illustrations.

Ormaig cup and ring marks

Ormaig Forest in Argyll is just one such treasured place. It is home to early prehistoric rock art - the distinctive circular cup and ring marks were pecked into the stone over five thousand years ago. Nobody knows what they were for or what they mean. Gavin Sutherland, one of the musicians involved in the project, describes the site as: "very mysterious – we were inspired by the geometry of the carvings, the repetition of the patterns and their seemingly gradual accumulation over time." The artwork was surveyed by high resolution sub-millimetre terrestrial laser scanning by AOC Archaeology and is shown here as a 3D textured mesh.

The artists touring the sites

The Firecracker Recordings artists toured selected sites under the guidance of FCS Archaeologist Matt Ritchie. They took inspiration from the archaeology and landscapes of Argyll and the Highlands to create a fresh take on our shared heritage. This image shows field recording in action at the broch of Caisteal Grugaig overlooking Loch Alsh (overlain by the laser scan 'point cloud'). The music and artwork of 'Mac-talla Nan Creag' has its creative roots in field recordings and archaeological laser scan survey.

Laser scan of Caisteal Grugaig broch

This is an elevation mesh created by the laser scan survey of Caisteal Grugaig broch by AOC Archaeology. By combining new archaeological survey techniques with an aesthetic illustrative methodology, we can produce detailed site records alongside innovative and spectacular illustrations. Whether the sites are presented on plan, in elevation or from oblique views, every picture tells a story.

Competition time

We have joined forces with Dig It! 2015 to discover archaeology's creative potential. 'Archaeology' can mean a whole range of things. From the smallest prehistoric arrowhead to imposing industrial landscapes, archaeology is all around us!

There are many different ways to enter and lots of prizes to be won, so grab your cameras, pencils, paintbrushes and trowels and show us what Scotland's past means to you. Entries close on 19 July so get your entries in soon!

Dig art promo

Who Can Enter?

The competition is open to all ages and abilities, whether you are a budding artist or smartphone photographer.

What Can I Submit?

Participants will compete in four categories:

  • Snap it! – Grab your camera and capture a site, monument, object or the people who visit or even uncover them.
  • Wish You Were Here – Show us your photographs which put the archaeology, and perhaps its visitors, within the drama of its wider landscape setting.
  • Archaeology is... – Mysterious? Beautiful? Muddy? This category is seeking artistic responses to archaeology and the medium is entirely up to you.
  • Putting the Art in Archaeology – Archaeologists, from dig volunteers to site directors, can present their artistic examples of plans, models, drawings and reconstructions.

Please visit digit2015.com for information on how to enter, prizes and inspiration and examples.