Just a quick post to say how much I love the ‘Early Peoples’ section in the National Museum of Scotland, which I visited today. The section is extensive, covering the first 8,000 or so of the 10,000 years Scotland has been populated. Not much physical evidence exists before around 4,000 BC, but there is a visible continuum in what has been found – in hand-millstones, wicker baskets, and bone and stone tools created by the various tribes – Pictish, Scottish, Viking, Britons (the originators of the Welsh language). In the exhibits, photographs have been placed next to stone-age relics, of Scots in nineteenth century and early twentieth century still using those same tools, of the same materials, to make their flour, carry their fish, cut their meat.
Best of all is how poetic the descriptions are for each section. The use of the word ‘We’ letting me know that it is speaking of a people I, and all who live here, are connected to, regardless of origin. How they, long ago, lived on the land we now live on, like us and not like us.
Amongst the exhibits too, are pieces of modern art. The Eduardo Paolozzi sculptures carrying the Pictish jewlry stick out for me, and the use of light, space, stone.
All taken together, it told a compelling story of Scotland’s past, never leaving out where gaps in our knowledge are, nor seeking to confine the artifacts to dusty cabinets. A visual bit of storytelling, with room enough for the reader to connect things in their own way.