Category Archives: SCOTLAND

Possible Medieval Road Uncovered Near Bannockburn Battlefield

Possible Medieval Road Uncovered Near Bannockburn Battlefield

A long stretch of road was uncovered on Saturday during the first-ever dig at Coxet Hill in Stirling. The hill is believed to be where the Scots King Robert the Bruce set up his camp to prepare for the battle ahead of the first day of fighting, on June 23, 1314.

The statue of Robert the Bruce near Bannockburn.

It is also likely to be where the Scottish camp followers and soldiers untrained in Bruce’s tactics were based during the decisive second day when the English army was forced to flee.

These “Sma’ Folk”, concealed by the hill, are said to have emerged once victory was assured to block the line of retreat of King Edward II’s army to Stirling Castle and turned the Scottish victory into a rout.

Stirling archaeologist Dr Murray Cook, who organised the dig to mark the 707th anniversary of the battle, said the stone-built road would have gone around the hill, which was established as a hunting wood for game birds by King Alexander III in the 13th century.

It would have been used by Bruce and his army around the time of the battle, and Dr Cook believes it may also have been the route taken by the Sma’ Folk when they caused panic in the English ranks.

Dr Cook said: “Where we thought we had a boundary around Alexander III’s New Park, it now appears we have a road. We’ve got a 100-metre section of it, probably four metres wide.

Possible Medieval Road Uncovered Near Bannockburn Battlefield
The long-hidden thoroughfare skirted around the New Park, a ‘cockshot’ — a hunting wood for game birds established by King Alexander III of Scotland in around 1264. Pictured: the dig site

“This hard-packed stone road or track curves around the bottom of the Coxet Hill and doesn’t show on any of the maps going back the last 200 years, which suggests a medieval origin.

Coxet Hill was also where the sma’ folk — men lacking training or weapons — were held in reserve until the second day, once Bruce’s victory was assured. At this point, they emerged from where they had been concealed to block the line of retreat to Stirling Castle. Pictured: the Battle of Bannockburn as depicted in the 15th century ‘Scotichronicon’, showing Bruce wielding an axe and Edward II fleeing north towards Stirling Castle

“The fact it is around the medieval royal wood suggests it was there before the Battle of Bannockburn and was in use at that time. It is logical that it was used by Robert the Bruce.

“Potentially this was also the route used by the Sma’ Folk on the way to [the Battle of] Bannockburn.”

The Battle of Bannockburn was fought on June 23-24, 1314. King Edward II travelled to Scotland to find and destroy the Scottish army and relieve Stirling Castle, which had been under Scottish siege.

The Battle of Bannockburn between the English army of Edward II and Scottish forces led by Robert the Bruce took place from June 23-24, 1314. Pictured: an interpretation of the first day of the battle, in which the English cavalry formations advanced on the Scots, but were ultimately forced to retreat back south over the Bannockburn
Despite being vastly outnumbered — only 6,000 men made up Bruce’s army — the Scottish proved victorious. Pictured: On the second day of the battle, the Scottish forces surprised the English by emerging from New Park, ultimately hemming Edward II’s forces against the Bannockburn and ultimately driving them to retreat

Edward’s army of up to 25,000 men far outnumbered the force assembled by Robert the Bruce, but the Scots were victorious. After a day of skirmishes, the second day of the battle ended in a decisive victory for the Scots.

Had the English army retreated to Stirling Castle they might have regrouped to fight another day – and even secured a longer-term victory – but their path was blocked.

The Sma’ Folk, seeing the tide turn in Bruce’s favour, emerged from behind Coxet Hill and caused panic among the English ranks, who fled at the sight of a new force.

Dr Cook added: “When you walk around this area, you are walking where legendary heroes like Robert the Bruce walked. It is astonishing just how much survives.”

The treasure inside beer lost in a shipwreck 120 years ago

The treasure inside beer lost in a shipwreck 120 years ago

Long-forgotten strains of yeast are searched for in wrecks, abandoned breweries and other places in the hope that they can be put to good use if they are resurrected. gently relieving himself through a hatch in the sunken hold, he could see the wreckage treasure waiting for him. He had been there for over 100 years. But now a part was about to be released from its resting place.

Many of the bottles found on board the Wallachia remained unopened despite spending more than 100 years underwater

The explorer in question, Steve Hickman, a dive technician and amateur diver, was carrying a small bag in the net with him.

The treasure he was looking for was beer. Rows of glass beer bottles, partly buried in the silt, were kept in the hold of this ship. With visibility reduced to zero, Hickman was effectively blinded. But he knew this shoulder wellve and had visited it several times before. He continued, searching for more bottles in the dark. Once he gathered and bagged a few, he escaped and his team carefully brought the bottles to the surface.

The wreck was Wallachia, a cargo ship that sank in 1895 off the coast of Scotland following a collision with another ship in thick fog. Wallachia had just left Glasgow and was packed with

Since he began diving in Wallachia in the 1980s, Hickman has collected tens of bottles containing whiskey, gin and beer. But his recent visit, teamwork with several fellow divers, led to something unusual.

The bottles they recovered were turned over to scientists at a research company called Brewlab, who, along with colleagues at the University of Sunderland, was able to extract live yeast from the liquid in three of the bottles. . They then used this yeast in an attempt to recreate the original beer.

In 2018, a similar project in Tasmania used yeast from 220-year-old beer bottles found on a wreck forget close to a drink from the 1700s. But the study of Wallachia yeast revealed a surprise. These beers contained an unusual type of yeast and the team behind the work is now evaluating whether this strain perishes. long overdue could have applications in modern brewing or could even improve the beers of today.

When opened, the beer inside the bottles found on the Wallachia had a far from appetising odour, but the yeast they contain could be invaluable

In any case, there is a

“Yeast species apart from Saccharomyces cerevisiae are often more tolerant of things like using frozen dough and sometimes even have increased lifting capacity, ”Heil explains.

Thomas says he wants to sample and study yeast sealed containers found on even more shipwrecks, or other times well preserved and watered capsules. And by studying the genetics of ancient yeast strains, it might also be possible to identify previously unknown but desirable genes, which might influence genetically modified yeast in the future.

But the Wallachia Wreck is a sobering reminder of how lucky we are to have access to a handful of historic yeasts that keep us alive. can partner with confidence at a specific time and place.

In the 30 or so years since Hickman dived there, he has witnessed the wreckage deteriorating over time. The structures and walkways above and around the engine room collapsed. The cracks in the ship’s ageing walls widened. The ship is disappearing.

“I suspect that maybe in the next 20-30 years it will be completely gone,” he says.

Wallachia will disappear. probably taking her remaining beer bottles with her as she slowly shatters on the seabed. Precious link with 19th-century brewers will finally disappear forever, taking with it the precious yeasts it carries in

Prehistoric animal carvings found for the first time in Scotland

Prehistoric animal carvings found for the first time in Scotland

Prehistoric animal carvings thought to be thousands of years old have been found for the first time in Scotland.

Prehistoric animal carvings found for the first time in Scotland
Historic Environment Scotland has said there are deer carvings visible on this rock

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) said the carvings – thought to be between 4,000 and 5,000 years old – were discovered inside Dunchraigaig Cairn in Kilmartin Glen, Argyll.

They are thought to date to the Neolithic or Early Bronze Age and include images of deer. Hamish Fenton, who has an archaeology background, found them by chance.

Kilmartin Glen is viewed as one of the most important concentrations of Neolithic and Bronze Age remains in mainland Scotland.

Valuable as sources of meat, hides, and with bones and antlers used for a variety of tools, HES said deer would have been very important to local communities at the time.

Historic Environment Scotland has created a graphic to show where the animals can be seen on the rock
Two stags can be seen with large antlers

Dr Tertia Barnett, the principal investigator for Scotland’s Rock Art Project at HES, said: “It was previously thought that prehistoric animal carvings of this date didn’t exist in Scotland, although they are known in parts of Europe.

“So it is very exciting that they have now been discovered here for the first time in the historic Kilmartin Glen.

“This extremely rare discovery completely changes the assumption that prehistoric rock art in Britain was mainly geometric and non-figurative.”

Dr Barnett said there were a few other prehistoric carvings of deer in the UK, but the only others created in the Early Bronze Age were “very schematic”.

“It is remarkable that these carvings in Dunchraigaig Cairn show such great anatomical detail and there is no doubt about which animal species they represent.”

Mr Fenton said he had been passing the cairn at dusk when he noticed the burial chamber in the side of the cairn and decided to slide inside with a torch.

“As I shone the torch around, I noticed a pattern on the underside of the roof slab which didn’t appear to be natural markings in the rock.,” he said.

“As I shone the light around further, I could see that I was looking at a deer stag upside down, and as I continued looking around, more animals appeared on the rock.”

He said the discovery had been completely unexpected.

“To me, discoveries like this are the real treasure of archaeology, helping to reshape our understanding of the past,” he added.

The cairn is currently closed while HES carries out further evaluation and puts measures in place to protect the carvings.

Remains of ‘lost medieval village’ found next to the Scottish motorway

Remains of ‘lost medieval village’ found next to the Scottish motorway

The Scotsman reports that traces of four buildings dating from the fourteenth to the seventeenth centuries were uncovered during roadwork in southern Scotland at Netherton Cross near Bothwell, North Lanarkshire, next to the hard shoulder of the M74.

Possible Ancient Dagger Found in 17th-Century House in Scotland
An artist’s reconstruction of how the settlement at Netherton Cross would have looked. It disappeared in the 18th Century as the Duke of Hamilton embarked on turning part of his estate into a vast parkland.

Pottery – including sherds of cooking pots and bowls, a clay tobacco pipe, gaming pieces and evidence of metalworking were found on the site in a series of “remarkable” discoveries.

Under one building, an intriguing collection of artefacts was found in the foundations. Among the items were a spindle whorl for weaving, a whetstone for sharpening tools, two 17th Century coins – and an iron dagger.

Archaeologists at the site of the “remarkable” discovery of a lost village right next to the hard shoulder of the M74

It is thought the dagger, which could date from the Iron Age, may have been left as part of a ritual to protect the building and its inhabitants from ‘magical’ harm.

Dr Natasha Ferguson, of GUARD Archaeology, one of the co-authors of the report, said: “The special or talismanic qualities of this dagger as a protective object may have enhanced the ritual act to protect the household from worldly and magical harm.

“The deposition of these objects under the foundation level of one of the houses may have been intended to affirm this space as a place of safety for them and generations to come.”

Map showing the excavation site at Netherton Cross.

The practice of leaving special objects in medieval and post-medieval buildings is well documented and it was believed such a ritual would safeguard the building and its inhabitants.

The report found a “deliberate selection” of objects had been placed at the property.

It is believed the spindle whorl, gaming piece and the whetstone may have represented a personal connection to an individual, activity, or place that would make them special to the occupants.

The report added: “The dagger’s potential antiquity as a prehistoric object perhaps lent it a quality of otherness. Reuse of prehistoric objects as depositions in medieval settings has been recorded in excavations of medieval churches in England, and flint arrowheads were traditionally identified as ‘elf-bolts’ and long recognised for their malevolent magical properties.”

Dr Gemma Cruickshanks, of National Museums Scotland, said it appeared the dagger was covered in a sheath at the time it was buried.

She added: “It was probably intact and still useable at that time. The form of this dagger is indistinguishable from Iron Age examples, indicating this simple dagger form had a very long history.”

Evidence of iron smelting, bloom refining and probable blacksmithing was also recovered, along with a selection of nails.

The settlement was close to the 10th Century Netherton Cross, which now stands in Hamilton Old Parish Church. Netherton Cross is around 1km away from Bothwell Bridge, the scene of the 1679 battle which ended the Covenanter rebellion in Scotland.

“It is very possible the community was affected by the conflict, either suffering damage to property or as a witness to the route of the Covenanter forces,” the report said.

Netherton vanished in the 18th Century given improvements to the estate by the Duke of Hamilton, with a well-ordered and symmetrical parkland built in its place.

The motorway then subsumed most of the village with the four stone structures the last traces of the settlement.

1 billion-year-old fossil ‘balls’ may be Earth’s earliest known multicellular life

1 billion-year-old fossil ‘balls’ may be Earth’s earliest known multicellular life

Scientists have discovered a rare evolutionary “missing link” dating to the earliest chapter of life on Earth. It’s a microscopic, ball-shaped fossil that bridges the gap between the very first living creatures — single-celled organisms — and more complex multicellular life.

1 billion-year-old fossil 'balls' may be Earth's earliest known multicellular life
Bicellum brasieri holotype specimen.

The spherical fossil contains two different types of cells: round, tightly packed cells with very thin cell walls at the centre of the ball, and a surrounding outer layer of sausage-shaped cells with thicker walls. Estimated to be 1 billion years old, this is the oldest known fossil of a multicellular organism, researchers reported in a new study. 

Life on Earth is widely accepted as having evolved from single-celled forms that emerged in the primordial oceans. However, this fossil was found in sediments from the bottom of what was once a lake in the northwest Scottish Highlands. The discovery offers a new perspective on the evolutionary pathways that shaped multicellular life, the scientists said in the study. 

“The origins of complex multicellularity and the origin of animals are considered two of the most important events in the history of life on Earth,” said lead study author Charles Wellman, a professor in the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom.

“Our discovery sheds new light on both of these,” Sheffield said in a statement.

Today, little evidence remains of Earth’s earliest organisms. Microscopic fossils estimated to be 3.5 billion years old are credited with being the oldest fossils of life on Earth, though some experts have questioned whether chemical clues in the so-called fossils were truly biological in origin. 

Other types of fossils associated with ancient microbes are even older: Sediment ripples in Greenland date to 3.7 billion years ago, and hematite tubes in Canada date between 3.77 billion and 4.29 billion years ago. Fossils of the oldest known algae, ancestor to all of Earth’s plants, are about 1 billion years old, and the oldest sign of animal life — chemical traces linked to ancient sponges — are at least 635 million and possible as much as 660 million years old, Live Science previously reported.

The tiny fossilized cell clumps, which the scientists named Bicellum brasieri, were exceptionally well-preserved in 3D, locked in nodules of phosphate minerals that were “like little black lenses in rock strata, about one centimetre [0.4 inches] in thickness,” said lead study author Paul Strother, a research professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Boston College’s Weston Observatory. 

“We take those and slice them with a diamond saw and make thin sections out of them,” grinding the slices thin enough for light to shine through — so that the 3D fossils could then be studied under a microscope, Strother told Live Science.

Surface view of a B. brasieri specimen, showing the tiled pattern of sets of elongated cells.

The researchers found not just one B. brasieri cell clump embedded in phosphate, but multiple examples of spherical clumps that showed the same dual cell structure and organization at different stages of development. This enabled the scientists to confirm that their find was once a living organism, Strother said.

“Bicellum” means “two-celled,” and “brasieri” honours the late palaeontologist and study co-author, Martin Brasier. Prior to his death in 2014 in a car accident, Brasier was a professor of paleobiology at the University of Oxford in the U.K., Strother said.

Multicellular and mysterious

In the B. brasieri fossils, which measured about 0.001 inches (0.03 millimeters) in diameter, the scientists saw something they had never seen before: evidence from the fossil record marking the transition from single-celled life to multicellular organisms. The two types of cells in B. brasieri differed from each other not only in their shape, but in how and where they were organized in the organism’s “body.” 

“That’s something that doesn’t exist in normal unicellular organisms,” Strother told Live Science. “That amount of structural complexity is something that we normally associate with complex multicellularity,” such as in animals, he said.

According to the study it’s unknown what type of multicellular lineage B. brasieri represents, but its round cells lacked rigid walls, so it probably wasn’t a type of algae. In fact, the shape and organization of its cells “are more consistent with a holozoan origin,” the authors wrote. (Holozoa is a group that includes multicellular animals and single-celled organisms that are animals’ closest relatives). 

The Scottish Highlands site — formerly an ancient lake — where the scientists found B. brasieri presented another intriguing puzzle piece about early evolution.

Earth’s oldest forms of life are typically thought to have emerged from the ocean because most ancient fossils were preserved in marine sediments, Strother explained. “There aren’t that many lake deposits of this antiquity, so there’s a bias in the rock record toward a marine fossil record rather than a freshwater record,” he added.

B. brasieri is therefore an important clue that ancient lake ecosystems could have been as important as the oceans for the early evolution of life.

Oceans provide organisms with a relatively stable environment, while freshwater ecosystems are more prone to extreme changes in temperature and alkalinity — such variations could have spurred an evolution in freshwater lakes when more complex life on Earth was in its infancy, Strother said.

These Mysterious Artificial Islands Are Older Than Stonehenge, Claim Scientists

These Mysterious Artificial Islands Are Older Than Stonehenge, Claim Scientists

Ancient humans did not always live on dry land in the northern British Isles in the distant past. The roots of thousands of ancient artificial islands remain to this day across Scotland, Ireland, and Wales: known as crannogs, these unusual systems were constructed long ago by prehistoric hands in the chilly waters of rivers, lakes, and sea inlets.

Exactly how long ago these things were shaped is something that’s never been fully understood. Traditionally, archaeologists estimated Scottish crannogs emerged no earlier than the Iron Age, being first constructed around 800 BCE.

But in more recent years, evidence has come to light that these engineered structures could be much more ancient, and a new study confirms the formations are actually thousands of years older than we realized.

Using radiocarbon dating of four sites located in the Outer Hebrides (the Western Isles of Scotland), researchers have discovered ancient crannogs dating back to 3640–3360 BCE, meaning early humans were building these giant artificial islands roughly 5,500 years ago, pre-dating even the construction of Stonehenge.

“These crannogs represent a monumental effort made thousands of years ago to build mini-islands by piling up many tonnes of rocks on the loch bed,” says archaeologist Fraser Sturt from the University of Southampton.

It’s not the first time archaeologists have wondered whether crannogs could have Neolithic origins. Excavations in the 1980s at the crannog Eilean Dòmhnuill suggested it could date back thousands of years, but for decades no other comparably ancient specimens were located.

Things changed in 2012, when former Royal Navy diver Chris Murray, who was a resident of the Scottish Isle of Lewis, became intrigued by a crannog in the waters of Loch Arnish.

Diving beside the remnants of the weathered platform, Murray made a totally unexpected discovery: hidden beneath the lake’s surface around the engineered island, he found a scattered collection of remarkably well-preserved Early/Middle Neolithic pots lying on the loch bed.

These Mysterious Artificial Islands Are Older Than Stonehenge, Claim Scientists
Neolithic pottery recovered from Loch Arnish in 2012.

Working with Sturt and other researchers, the team investigated Loch Arnish and several other crannogs – some of which had not previously been identified in archaeological records and were located using Google Earth.

In total, the researchers discovered over 200 Neolithic ceramic vessels discarded from five crannogs – evidence of an extensive and arcane cultural practice we never knew about until now.

“Survey and excavation of these sites have demonstrated – for the first time –that crannogs were a widespread feature of the Neolithic and that they may have been special locations, as evidenced by the deposition of material culture into the surrounding water,” the researchers report in a new paper.

“These findings challenge current conceptualisations of Neolithic settlement, monumentality, and depositional practice while suggesting that other ‘undated’ crannogs across Scotland and Ireland could potentially have Neolithic origins.”

The site investigations, which encompassed a mixture of underwater and aerial surveying, plus excavations and radiocarbon analysis, revealed clear evidence the crannogs were human-made. The ancient builders created the structures by piling up boulders to make artificial islets.

At one of the sites, Loch Bhorgastail, ancient timbers were also observed around the edges of the crannog, thought to have been placed to increase the stability of the rock structure.

Six crannogs that have produced Neolithic material.

Sometimes, a stone causeway leads out to the island; at other sites, no causeway seems to exist, suggesting the crannog might have been accessed by boat, or perhaps a wooden bridge. While no other timber evidence remains at any of the sites, it’s thought the crannogs may have borne wooden structures and dwellings built on top of them, from which ancient pottery was once hurled – and not, it seems, by accident.

“The quantities of material now identified around several sites, and the position of these vessels in relation to the islets, suggests that pots were intentionally deposited into the water,” the researchers write.

“Many vessels had substantial sooting on their external surfaces, and some had internal charred residues; they had clearly been used before deposition.”

As for what these ancient disposals into the loch signified, and the other purposes of the crannogs may have had, we don’t know.

But given the amount of work that must have gone into creating these giant structures – engineered with stones weighing up to 250 kilograms (550 lbs) a piece – it’s clear they must have had some unique importance to the prehistoric community who once inhabited these mysterious spaces.

Perhaps the crannogs were reserved for important celebratory feasts, or used in mortuary rituals, with the watery backdrop of the loch somehow framing the otherness of these long-ago gatherings.

“They would have required a huge investment of labour to build and probably remained significant places for a long time,” the researchers explain.

“These islets could also have been perceived as special places, their watery surroundings creating separation from everyday life. The process of crossing over to the islets may have emphasized this separation; the practices that took place on them do appear to have been very different from those of ‘normal life.”

Viking ‘Drinking Hall’ Uncovered in Scotland

Viking ‘Drinking Hall’ Uncovered in Scotland

There was likely no shortage of ale and good cheer at a recently unearthed Viking drinking hall, discovered by archaeologists on the island of Rousay, Orkney, in northern Scotland. 

Viking 'Drinking Hall' Uncovered in Scotland
The site was explored for a number of years before the discovery

The hall wasn’t a short-lived establishment, either. Its doors seem to have been open from the 10th to the 12th centuries, likely serving high-status Vikings, the archaeologists said. 

Now, all that’s left of this once bustling alehouse are stones, a handful of artefacts — including a fragmented Norse bone comb, pottery and a bone spindle whorl — and very old trash heaps, known as middens. 

The Norse bone comb fragment from the excavation site

Archaeologists discovered the beer hall this summer, after learning that walls extending from below a known settlement were actually part of a large, 43-foot-long (13 m) Norse building.

These walls were about 3 feet (1 meter) wide and 18 feet (5.5 m) apart. Stone benches sat on the sides of the building, they noted. 

Stone walls and stone benches were found during the excavation

The drinking hall was found at an archaeological hotspot at Skaill Farmstead, a place that has likely been inhabited by people for more than 1,000 years.

That’s why a team of archaeologists from the University of the Highlands and Islands archaeology institute, Rousay locals and students have been digging there for years; they are often sifting through the middens to learn about old farming and fishing practices, as well as what sorts of foods were eaten by the people who lived there. 

“We have recovered millennia of middens, which will allow us an unparalleled opportunity to look at changing dietary traditions, farming and fishing practices from the Norse period up until the 19th century,” project co-director Ingrid Mainland, an archaeologist at the University of the Highlands and Islands, said in a statement. 

Excavations at the drinking hall are ongoing, but it’s already showing similarities to other Norse halls found in Orkney, as well as other parts of Scotland.

Moreover, the farmstead is part of the Westness on Rousay, a coastal stretch on the island. Westness is mentioned in the Orkneyinga saga as the home of Sigurd, a mighty chieftain, the archaeologists said.

Perhaps, Sigurd frequented the drinking hall, the archaeologists added.

“You never know, but perhaps Earl Sigurd himself sat on one of the stone benches inside the hall and drank a flagon of ale!” project co-director Dan Lee, an archaeologist at the University of the Highlands and Islands, said in the statement.

Well-Preserved Burial Cist Discovered on Scottish Island

Well-Preserved Burial Cist Discovered on Scottish Island

The Scotsman reports that a well-preserved skeleton has been discovered in a tightly constructed stone burial cist about a half-mile from the Neolithic site of Skara Brae on the island of Orkney

This researcher, a member of the archaeological team, is digging here in an effort to discover more about the skeleton, which is lying in a crouched position on its right-hand side, with the cist some three-metres wide and covered with a heavy stone slab.

It is too early to determine whether the bones are those of a man or a woman or if anything else was buried with them. But the robustness of the cist has left the skeleton virtually intact, with small bones – such as toes – surviving thousands of years.

Well-Preserved Burial Cist Discovered on Scottish Island
The skeleton was discovered on a farm close to the Neolithic settlement of Skara Brae on Orkney but it is not clear if there is a link between the two, with the remains possibly from the later Bronze Age.

Martin Cook, director of AOC Archaeology, said: “The size and scale of the cist would suggest it is a late Neolithic or early Bronze Age burial.

“We think the skeleton is buried by itself and not part of a cemetery. It is obviously very close to Skara Brae.”

Mr Cook said it was too soon to say whether the burial was linked to Skara Brae, the Neolithic settlement that was occupied from around 3180 BC to 2500 BC.

“This could be a later grave,” Mr Cook added.

Evidence of other unexcavated settlements has recently been found on the coast at the Bay of Skaill.

Mr Cook added: “We are currently removing the skeleton and what we are looking for is material goods, things like pottery or animal bones or whether a joint of meat were buried with it.

“The skeleton was laid down in a crouched position and we can see the leg bones, the arms and the toes. Sometimes animals like voles will get in and take the smaller bones but this cist was really well, tightly built. It looks like all the bone is there and well.”

The find was reported to archaeologists after it was discovered during work on the Davidson cattle farm at Skaill. The excavation was carried out by AOC Archaeology on behalf of Historic Environment Scotland.

A spokesperson for Historic Environment Scotland (HES) said “We were approached by the local authority archaeologist in Orkney for assistance after the discovery of a cist burial in the buffer zone of the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site. AOC Archaeology, current holders of our excavation call-off contract, is attending the site and will be carrying out an archaeological excavation.”

The find comes shortly after evidence of a possible Neolithic or Bronze Age settlement in the Bay of Skaill area was discovered around half a mile from Skara Brae.

The finds of a badly damaged wall, which had been exposed due to the pounding tides on this stretch of coast, along with deer antlers, a boar tooth, a cattle jawbone and a large decorated stone have led archaeologists to consider whether “another Skara Brae” is waiting to be discovered.

Eroding wall running out from an eroding section on to the beach. The dark material in the foreground is a layer of peat. Sigurd Towrie from the University of the Highlands and Islands discovered a badly damaged wall that had been exposed by pounding tides and pouring rain
Deer antlers, a boar tooth (pictured), a cattle jawbone and a large decorated stone have also been discovered at the site – said to date back nearly 5,000 years

Sigurd Towrie, the spokesman for the Archaeology Institute at the University of Highlands and Islands, said earlier this month that the finds “suggest there is another settlement at the Bay of Skaill – one that, from previous environmental sampling, is likely to be 4,000 to 5,000 years old”.