Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users, please click the view more button below to purchase a copy of this dissertation from Proquest.

(Some titles may also be available free of charge in our Open Access Dissertation Collection, so please check there first.)

Constructing ancestors: Archaeology and folklore in Scotland

Amy Gazin-Schwartz, University of Massachusetts Amherst


In this dissertation I explore the ways folklore and archaeology construct the past, and the potential for folklore to contribute to archaeological interpretation. Nineteenth-century antiquarians viewed both folklore and ancient monuments as relics of the past, and some popular literature today follows this tradition. Archaeologists have been more wary of the relationship. My own approach does not seek correlations between folklore and archaeological sites. Rather, I take the view that both folklore and archaeological materials cannot reveal the past in themselves, but only give us information about the past through interpretation. I therefore develop interpretative dialogues between the two fields in four areas: for interpreting material culture; for conducting archaeological surveys; for understanding the significance of time in constructing ideas about the past; and for interpreting monuments. I illustrate the potential for such a dialogue through a case study of archaeology and folklore in Scotland, and in particular the islands of Raasay and Skye.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Gazin-Schwartz, Amy, "Constructing ancestors: Archaeology and folklore in Scotland" (1999). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9932314.