Neolithic Scots kept off hard stuff

January 28, 2000

Neolithic Scots may have been a more sober lot than recent investigations have suggested. Apparent evidence for the ritual consumption of hallucinogenic substances found inside a Stone Age henge monument in Scotland in 1995 has not been proven, after a detailed scientific analysis.

The site in the grounds of the Balfarg riding school in Fife had become an icon for New Agers after archaeologists discovered signs that henbane, a plant that is known to have hallucinogenic properties, had been mixed into a porridge and stored in pots, which had been buried in pits within the ritual monument.

However, a team from the University of Stirling has found no signs that henbane had been kept in the pots when a painstaking pollen analysis of burnt organic layers inside the sherds was carried out.

Deborah Long, research programme manager with the Kilmartin House Trust in Argyll, said: "We were very disappointed - we're as much in the dark about Neolithic ritual as we were before."

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