Petrification processes in Prehistoric architectures: A view from the north

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This paper investigates the processes in the petrification of Iron Age architecture, from initial idea to eventual abandonment and archaeological recovery, exemplified by the Scottish Broch. Although the preservation of these more than 2000-year-old stone-built roundhouses seemingly renders them the archetype of petrification, the analysis here highlights the impact of organic components, now lost, as well as the flexibility in their stone structure, evidenced by use, re-use and rebuilding to conclude that architectural petrification is perhaps never complete – unless deliberate events, such as modern conservation, halt the ongoing processes. Using the metaphors of Becoming and Being in a social and architectural setting, broch building is discussed within a wider British prehistoric context to suggest that not buildings or monuments, but the ideas of them, houses and tombs, became petrified through time. The incorporation of some fragments of some of the deceased in Iron Age brochs could represent another step within these dynamic journeys between matter and ideas and identities. The dynamics in construction should therefore also be reflected in modern reconstructions to highlight alternatives for the same or similar structures, not to petrify certain ideas in our heads.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPetrification Processes in Matter and Society
EditorsSophie Hüglin, Alexander Gramsch, Liisa Seppänen
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9783030693886
ISBN (Print)9783030693879
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Publication series

NameThemes in Contemporary Archaeology
ISSN (Print)2730-7441

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Iron Age
  • Scotland
  • Scottish brochs
  • dynamic architecture
  • architectural process
  • relational ontology


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