‘Tuesday Morning’, the schoolboy and Mann
early medieval burials at Holm Park near Ballantrae, Ayrshire, Scotland
Inhumation burial, Dog whelk shells, Mesolithic, Historiography
Holm Park, Ballantrae, Ayrshire, Scotland, UK
The rediscovery of human remains, correspondence and other unpublished excavation archival material in the Glasgow Museums collection of Ludovic McLellan Mann prompted the reappraisal of a short archaeological investigation undertaken in April 1931 at Holm Park, near Ballantrae, Ayrshire, by a schoolboy, Eric French and his biology teacher, William Hoyland. This article offers a re-evaluation of their fieldwork which exposed two inhumation burials, named ‘Tuesday Morning’ and ‘Tuesday Afternoon’. Eight dog whelk shells remain from an overlying diffuse shell midden spread that may reflect the remnants of a dye-processing site. The skeletons and marine shells went on temporary display at Bryanston School, Dorset. The area south of Ballantrae is well known for prehistoric flint scatter sites and the finds presented the intriguing possibility that the burials might be Mesolithic in age, the excavators believing they might even be Palaeolithic. A collection of flint cores, initially associated with the archive, now appears unrelated to this excavation for it was found with a note written by a local lithic collector, William Edgar. New osteological analysis confirmed the presence of at least two adult individuals, and one bone sample returned an early medieval radiocarbon date. This evidence contributes to national understandings of early historic burial practices in unenclosed cemeteries during the transition from Iron Age pagan to Christian burial rites, important given the paucity of 1st millennium evidence in south-west Scotland. It also offers insight into an earlier account of multiple inhumation burials, found in the general vicinity in 1879, although aspects of the precise location and relationship between the two discoveries is currently unresolved. Mann’s correspondence with French’s father, a prominent Glasgow industrialist, and with Hoyland reveals the character of archaeological social networks in western Scotland during the 1930s which have been a neglected aspect of research to date.