c 200BC the Upper Tweed Valley had a substantial population as evidenced by the large number of Stone-Age and Bronze-Age sites that are scattered over the hill sides.  More about these sites and and Standing Stones of the same period see the Tweedsmuir Standing Stones page.

OliverBeaker.jpg

In 1887 while building dykes round young woods behind the house of Oliver workmen unearthed a cist containing an earthenware beaker urn - image above.  in 1923 this was presented the the then Museum of Antiquities in Edinburgh.  One must presume that it is now in the National Museum of Scotland's collections.  The RCAHMS have recorded this item on Canmore as ID48526.

In 1991 a hill walker walking near the source of the Gameshope burn in the moorlands towards the far east of Tweedsmuir parish on the Tweedsmuir/Moffat Parish boundary in the Scottish Borders found a broken longbow in a peat bog known as Rotten Bottom.  The walker kept it in his garage for quite a while before taking it to an expert.   The subsequuent calibrated radiocarbon dating indicated that the bow, made of yew, dated to 4040 BC to 3640 BC.   The RCAHMS have it recorded on Canmore as ID 71910.   This dating makes the bow the oldest one in existence.   The bow was displayed in the Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh but has now - 2014 - been loaned to the Moffat Museums where it it is nicely displayed in the refurbished museum.  To view the display go to the Moffat Museums website http://www.moffatmuseum.co.uk.. It can be found on the main gallery section of the Exhibition Areas.  

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The find spot is adjacent to the Carrifran Wildwood Project master minded by the Borders Woodland Trust.   The Trust has recently acquired - 2013- the Talla and Gameshope estate.  The development here will follow on from Carrifran planting woodland trees that would have been around c4000 BC.   The mix of trees had been dictated by pollen records from core sampling and includes alder, ash, elm, cherry, birch, hazel, holly, oak, thorn, rowan, willow and juniper.   You will note that yew is not included in this list - where did the hunter acquire the yew stave for his bow and where did he, or maybe a she, plan to get a new stave? 

 

More information on both Wildwood sites at www.bordersforesttrust.org.

More information on yew bows on the Yew Trees of Neidpath page.

 

Tony Hope