Rubha Robhanais, Outer Hebrides

The Big Picture Portfolio, #1

The Edge of the Old World, Butt of the Isle of Lewis (Rubha Robhanais), Outer Hebrides, Scotland
The Vikings would have known this corner of the world well from their journeys across the North Atlantic, and I like to think that they were suckers for the sheer ruggedness of this particular point just like me. When you stand here looking north you look across waters that lead to the arctic and the north pole. The wind blows, the surf pounds, and the imagination churns.



What: Rubha Robhanais (Scottish Gaelic) or the Butt of Lewis, a weather-battered point of ancient rock (Lewisian gneiss, some of the oldest exposed geology in Europe) [Wikipedia]

Where: The northern tip of the Isle of Lewis in the North Atlantic, Outer Hebrides, Scotland

Notable Date(s): ~ BC 6500 (earliest habitation of Lewis), ~ BC 2800 (megalithic constructions), AD 1098 (Norwegian control), AD 1275 (Scottish rule), AD 1588 (Spanish Armada sails by to the north and is subsequently ravaged by storms)

Culture(s): Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Celtic, Norwegian, Scottish

Seen As: Prominent place, landscape, seascape



We’ll never know who all has passed this way and exactly when. But when you stand on this point and look out to sea you are staring across volatile waters that people have always encountered with a degree of trepidation. You are also standing on the last bit of land, at the end of the last island, in a chain of islands, off yet another island. An end in so many ways.

Yet also a beginning. People have moved across this landscape and through these waters for millenia; it is indeed an old place in many ways. Circles of standing stones, Bronze and Iron Age burials, and even Viking treasures have all been unearthed nearby.

How many souls have looked out across this ocean – or back over the rocks as their vessel passed – and paused for a moment, lost at the mercy of a fleeting thought?



Thanks for stopping by. You’ve found the first post of a “new” site, hope you like what you see!

Should Be Digging combines photographs and media with archaeological and other knowledge about our human past. My goal is to juxtapose images of natural and cultural landscapes or features with related research or “facts” – as well as general questions or “mysteries” – about humanity’s colorful journey through time and around the world.

And build a portfolio, ya know. I’ve been doing this stuff (archaeology/photography) in one form or another for years and my goal here is to create something that does justice to both.

I’m in the South Pacific now on the lookout for some new images of Polynesia’s prehistory… and history (in conjunction with some honest to goodness digging work, actually), but it’s already fun to look back on this image, the Outer Hebrides, and last summer. What a place!

So, whaddayathink?!