The Scottish Bronze Age was a period of dramatic social and economic change, characterised by the emergence of social stratification and an increase in inter-regional interaction, accompanied sometimes by violent conflict. Against this backdrop, Bronze Age ritual and religion can be seen to have played a significant role in the construction, definition and maintenance of social relationships. Although common themes emerge, there is considerable diversity in the availability and quality of evidence for ritual practice across Scotland. In addition, the character of the evidence in regions such as Aberdeenshire, Orkney or Argyll and Bute is very different: Clava cairns are found only in northeast Scotland (Bradley 2000), for example, while kerb cairns, common in Argyll and Aberdeenshire, are not found in the Borders (Ritchie and McLaren 1972). In general, religious iconography is lacking, but evidence from continental Europe can provide useful insights into elements of the belief systems of this period.
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