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Last Updated: Friday, 12 January 2007, 00:25 GMT
Old cave for child remains reborn
A graphic shows a depiction of the cave
The programme has tried to depict the cave's appearance
A 3,000-year-old Scottish temple cave dedicated to dead children has been brought to life for the first time.

Child remains were brought to Sculptor's Cave, near Lossiemouth, Moray, for relatives to mourn them, according to experts.

The cave, remains and artefacts have now been brought back to life using television graphics for the BBC Scotland series Art and Soul.

The programme will be screened on BBC Two on Monday at 2100 GMT.

The series aims to trace the relationship between Scottish art and religion from the Picts to modern times.

From what we can tell, these were simply people mourning their dead children
Ian Shepherd
Archaeologist

An excavation in 1929 uncovered thousands of bone parts.

According to archaeologist Ian Shepherd, people from across the north of Scotland, the islands and possibly even Ireland, may have brought their dead children to Sculptor's Cave.

His excavations have led him to believe not only was the cave dedicated to children, but that ancient people placed some of the heads of their infants on poles.

The graphics for the BBC Scotland programme show the opening of the cave - with indicators of its religious significance, the severed heads of dead children - and into its dark interior to a sacred pool strewn with Bronze age treasures.

'Modern eyes'

Although the severed heads could be seen as a macabre memorial to modern eyes, the experts believe there is no sign that these were ritual killings.

Mr Shepherd said: "The graphics in the BBC's Art and Soul series are, as far as I know, the first time modern eyes will have seen a depiction of the cave as it would have been 3,000 years ago.

"From what we can tell, these were simply people mourning their dead children."

It's a story that both thrills and appals
Richard Holloway
Presenter

Presenter Richard Holloway, the former Bishop of Edinburgh, said: "Our earliest religions, our earliest rituals, are dark in every sense.

"This cave on the Moray coast hides a ghoulish, 3,000-year-old secret."

It can only be accessed from the land at low tide along a mile of shingle beach or by scaling the cliff face.

The BBC Scotland production team accessed it from the water by boat.

It may even have been an island, which could have reinforced its spiritual status 3,000 years ago.

Mr Holloway said: "Getting into the cave from the sea was exhilarating if a little scary, but it underpinned the amazing sense of this place. It's a story that both thrills and appals.

"Yet it seems to demonstrate an early fascination with what came after death."


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