A multiscalar methodology for holistic analysis of prehistoric rock carvings in Scotland

Tertia Barnett*, Joana Valdez-Tullet, Linda Marie Bjerketvedt, Frederick Alexander-Reid, Maya Hoole, Stuart Jeffrey, Guillaume Robin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Prehistoric rock carvings are one of Scotland’s most enigmatic and poorly understood monument types. This article discusses the pioneering approach used by Scotland’s Rock Art Project to enhance understanding of the abstract motifs through multiscalar computational analyses of a large dataset co-produced with community teams. The approach can be applied to suitable rock art datasets from other parts of the world and has international relevance for rock art reserach. Our analysis incorporates data from across Scotland in order to investigate inter-regional differences and similarities in the nature and contexts of the carvings. Innovative application of complementary analytical methods identified subtle regional variations in the character of the rock art and motif types. This variability suggest an understanding of the rock art tradition that was widely shared but locally adapted, and reflects connections and knowledge exchange between specific regions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number86
Pages (from-to)1-35
Number of pages35
JournalHeritage Science
Publication statusPublished - 12 Mar 2024

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • prehistoric rock art
  • multidisciplinary methodology
  • Geographical Information Systems (GIS)
  • computational analyses
  • Agent-Based Modelling (ABM)
  • Multiple Response Permutation Procedure (MRPP)
  • Multiple Component Analysis (MCA)


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