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For our predecessors in Scotland, building monuments provided a shared history and communality. As people built, they also constructed communities, referencing what had gone before while providing their own layer of history. Exploring the demography of this period, of how people lived, combined with understanding the tales the monuments tell of engineering, cosmology and attitudes to death, allows us to build up a picture of dynamic and complex societies. In Scotland, the subject matter has come to a juncture: there is now a rich tradition of research, survey and excavation to draw upon; there is also a wealth of palaeoenvironmental data to tap; and there is, in ScARF, a research framework in place to help guide. Through this project we will develop the story of how early people in Scotland made themselves, not only in terms of how we came to be as we are but, in turn, enables the Scottish evidence to take its place in wider European, indeed global, narratives.

Prehistoric monuments also provide a shared history today. Through their study we aim to increase, today, awareness of, and engagement with, an early chapter in Scotland’s story. By appreciating the complexity of the builders’ lives we can breathe new life into the image we have of prehistoric people and the quality and sophistication of their way of life. Doing so will involve people with their past, helping them appreciate and enjoy Scotland’s story. Capacity will also be developed so that more people can contribute to past understandings, putting in place a programme for research and developing the resource for social, economic and cultural benefits. Prehistoric monuments built community identity in the past, and their study can help do so again.

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