Constructing ancestors: Archaeology and folklore in Scotland
In this dissertation I explore the ways folklore and archaeology construct the past, and the potential for folklore to contribute to archaeological interpretation. Nineteenth-century antiquarians viewed both folklore and ancient monuments as relics of the past, and some popular literature today follows this tradition. Archaeologists have been more wary of the relationship. My own approach does not seek correlations between folklore and archaeological sites. Rather, I take the view that both folklore and archaeological materials cannot reveal the past in themselves, but only give us information about the past through interpretation. I therefore develop interpretative dialogues between the two fields in four areas: for interpreting material culture; for conducting archaeological surveys; for understanding the significance of time in constructing ideas about the past; and for interpreting monuments. I illustrate the potential for such a dialogue through a case study of archaeology and folklore in Scotland, and in particular the islands of Raasay and Skye.