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June 1994 Index

Bulletin Index Caithness Field Club

Caithness Field Club Bulletin
June 1994

RECENT PUBLICATIONS

The Chambered Cairns of Caithness - J.L. Davidson and A.S. Henshall, 177pp., with plans and photographs, Edinburgh University Press, £40.00 now reduced to £14.95.

The Chambered Cairns of Orkney - J.L. Davidson and A.S. Henshall 198pp., with plans and photographs, Edinburgh University Press, £35.00 now reduced to £14.95.

Dr. A.S. Henshall is the author of Vol I (1963) and Vol II (1972) of The Chambered Tombs of Scotland and the above two new volumes contain much new material including newly discovered cairns, information from manuscript sources and additional maps and plans. Full inventories of the contents of the cairns are given and an up-to-date assessment of their significance and dating. Each volume gives details of over seventy separate sites and is indispensable reference for the Neolithic period of the North. At their now reduced price they are available in hardback at a bargain price.

From Carnac to Callanish - Aubrey Burl, 286pp., with plans and photographs, Yale University Press, £25.00.

This is the first authoritative account of the prehistoric stone rows and avenues of Britain, Ireland and Brittany by the acclaimed expert on the subject.  Dr. Burl is well known for his lucid writing on megalithic monuments and he has published numerous accounts of his researches on the subject. This book is a welcome addition and includes many photographs, plans, diagrams, distribution maps and tables as well as information from excavations and astronomical analyses to provide explanations for their construction.

The monuments are grouped according to the types of row and a complete chapter is devoted to the multiple stone rows of Brittany, Dartmoor and Caithness and Sutherland, including many plans and comparisons together with a possible explanation of why the rows of northern Scotland were built. 

This book is an essential addition to the library of anyone who Is Interested in standing stones and is readable by both amateur and expert alike.

The Early Christian Monuments of Scotland - J. Romilly Allen and Joseph Anderson, 2 Vols., 418, 522pp., diagrams and photographs, The Pinkfoot Press, £50.

First published in 1903 by the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland when only four hundred copies were printed, this has always been regarded as one of the standing references. Sadly, original copies are difficult to come by and would be prohibitively expensive. Fortunately it is now available as a facsimile edition in two volumes with an introduction by Dr. Isabel Henderson.

Volume 1 includes a description of all the Pictish symbols including tables of their distribution on the class I and Class II stones and a lengthy discussion of the ornamental  designs. Volume II gives a detailed county by county description of each monument. This is an essential reference for anyone interested in the early Christian monument of Scotland.

Les Myatt

Volcanism and Early Terrestrial Biotas, Trans Roy Soc Edinb, Vol 84, Parts 3 & 4 1994 ISSN 0236 5933.£39 available from CAB International, Wallingford, Oxon.

This unlikely sounding title hides the fact that it is, essentially, a report on the East Kirkton Project. The story began some months ago when a professional fossil collector from the Midland Valley was refereeing a football match. His name was Stanley Wood. He noticed that the wall surrounding the football pitch consisted of a curious laminated limestone, which he thought a likely source of fossil material. He saw a dry stone dyke nearby and gave it a thorough examination and found fossils in it. He bought the dyke from the farmer and dismantled it stone by stone, collecting the fossils from it. He then did some investigative work on the source of the limestone and discovered it came from a derelict quarry at East Kirkton, Bathgate, of Brigantian, upper Visťan age (335 million years old). It was not until 1984 that Stan Wood unearthed from this site the earliest proven tetrapods and other terrestrial fossils, including millipedes, scorpions and a harvestman spider.

A bed-by-bed excavation of the quarry was carried out between 1985 and 1992, leading to a series of papers which were published in this volume.

Scorpions: The fossil remains of a number of already known scorpions together with a new one: Pulmonooscorpious kirktonensis n.gen.n.sp.

Eurypterids: The material found throws new light on the genera Hibbertopterus, Dunsopterus and Cyrfoctenus.

Myriapods: The specimens found were not well enough preserved to permit classification.

Actinopterygian and acanthodian fishes: Remains of both families were found but could not he positively classiified.

Elasmobrancg fishes: Thirteen fragments from two different families of sharks typical of Trystichius and Diplodeselache.

Tennospondyl amphibians: Over 30 complete skeletons of a new amphibian Balenerpeton woodi n.gen.n.sp.

Aistopod amphibians: Five fragmentary skeletons of the genus Ophiderpeton.

Anthracosauroids: A new anthracosauroid Silvanerpeton miripedes n.gen.n.sp.

Reptiliomorphs: Two new reptiliomorphs: Eldeceeon rolfei n.gen.n.sp. and Westtlothiana lizziae n.gen.n.sp.

The environment in which the fossils are found is presumed to be a shallow lake in a richly-vegetated landscape formed of volcanic cones with localised hot spring activity, hence the title of the volume.

Jack Saxon