Wild Words: Kirsteen Bell

NO F20 Into the Wildwoods COVER - copyright FLS by Alex Leonard 2019 (2)
NO F20 Into the Wildwoods COVER - copyright FLS by Alex Leonard 2019 (2)

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Some of the earliest known maps of the Scottish Highlands were created by visitors.

Military or exploratory, either way they were created because map-makers wanted to understand more about the shape of the landscape.

Those first maps, made in the 16th and 17th centuries, show a landscape whose face is completely changed but is still recognisable as the one we live in now.

Rivers and shorelines follow the same route, allowing present-day map readers to access a time long past.

Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) is stepping further back into time and is seeking young artists to help them reimagine the Mesolithic past.

Budding artists have been offered the chance to become a character in new artwork created to support Forestry and Land Scotland’s Into the Wildwoods learning resource – by drawing their own Mesolithic map.

The two lucky artists – apprentice Mesolithic Map Makers – will be turned into a cartoon illustration and make their own appearance in the distant past. Their maps will also be professionally reproduced by artist Alex Leonard.

Into the Wildwoods looks at the ways in which our Mesolithic ancestors understood the complex habitats and ecosystems in which they hunted and gathered. It is an engaging, fun way to help us understand our place within the natural world.

FLS archaeologist Matt Ritchie said: ‘Archaeology is a fascinating subject that captures the imagination of young and old.

‘Into the Wildwoods provides a storyline and a mix of creative activities and discussion ideas to help anyone with an interest in our ancient past discover the world of the Mesolithic hunter-gatherers and explore the interconnected ideas of habitats, natural resources and seasonal change.

‘It explores the themes of cognitive maps and story maps, connected landscapes, seasonal resources, special places, movement and travel and different scales. The resource is available online and will provide an unusual topic for anyone looking to keep their youngsters busy at home.

‘We’re looking for young artists to depict an imaginary landscape and the various resources in it. It also needs to include a short caption describing their imaginary tribe, the route they would take to find food and resources to survive and how to avoid the dangers.

‘It can be drawn, painted, a photograph or put together from things found in the woods, such as sticks, stones, feathers and bones, so get creative.’

Mesolithic children would have known this landscape – the earliest known human settlement in Scotland was found at Kinloch on Rhum – so the rivers, mountains and islands of Lochaber could be a source of rich inspiration for those trying to map the past.

Anyone between the ages of 8 and 13 who thinks they could be an apprentice Mesolithic Map Maker should send a photograph of their map to matt.ritchie@forestryandland.gov.scot by Monday June 1.


NO F20 Into the Wildwoods COVER – copyright FLS by Alex Leonard 2019 (2)