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Durham e-Theses
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Bridging Gaps through Light: An Archaeological Exploration of Light and Dark in the Atlantic Scottish Iron Age

CROWTHER, THOMAS,GREGORY,WILLIAM (2014) Bridging Gaps through Light: An Archaeological Exploration of Light and Dark in the Atlantic Scottish Iron Age. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Representing a broad attempt to open up debate on an issue that has been largely overlooked, this thesis aims to explore the relationship between Atlantic Scotland’s Iron Age communities (and in particular, the broch cultures of Northern Scotland) and light – a complex, multifaceted, and universally significant facet of human existence. Thus far, the role of light has received little interest in prehistoric studies, and when such an interest does occur, it has often been restricted to entrance orientation research. Indeed, little attempt has actually been made to understand how light was orchestrated to shape social experience in the past, or how differing dimensions of light work to reveal or conceal aspects of social life; how was light experienced? What did light mean? Proposing an alternative approach to the study of light, these are questions which this thesis aims to explore; seeking to understand how Scottish Iron Age society orchestrated and manipulated light to create social experience.
Due to light’s complexity, the thesis sections its study into a number of separate themes: structural orientation, the cosmological model and space, light and functionality, the psychological impact of light and dark, and light in the landscape and the influence of the weather and the environment. To explore each of these, the thesis pursues a plural methodology, combining typical data-based approaches (map-based studies, broad ranging landscape and GIS research; architectural-typological studies) with more qualitative analysis (e.g. phenomenology, ethnographic analogy, folklore analysis), attempting to explore both the physical and cognitive effects of light and darkness in the past.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Iron Age; Broch; Light; Dark; Wheelhouse; Scotland; Water; Underworld; Orkney;
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Archaeology, Department of
Thesis Date:2014
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:06 May 2015 12:52

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