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Ancient island settlement rebuilt

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Trinity
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« on: July 05, 2007, 12:01:31 am »

Ancient island settlement rebuilt  

 

A skeleton dating back 2,000 was found at the site in Unst

An ancient Shetland settlement at risk of crumbling into the sea has been rebuilt - despite fears that it will soon be eroded.

The work on the burial site in Sandwick Bay, Unst, follows an excavation led by the Scottish Coastal Archaeology and the Problems of Erosion Trust (Scape).

It teamed up with the Council for Scottish Archaeology's Adopt-a-Monument scheme for the rebuild project.

The new structures will allow visitors to see the excavation findings.

It is thought that the structures may only last a couple of years, due to coastal erosion.

Local groups, working with archaeologists and ancient building specialists, decided they should be built in their original positions, with nature being allowed to take its course.

Washed away

Interpretation boards and leaflets are being produced to explain the remains.

They will contain details of a skeleton dating back 2,000 years which was found with an unusual polished stone disk beside its head in 2005.

The site will be maintained and monitored as the remains are washed away in the next few years.

Tom Dawson, project coordinator the St Andrew's University Scape trust, said: "We have finished the excavation of the structure, leaving some of the walls untouched but removing other walls.

"Before taking the walls down we photographed and drew them, as well as marking the stones, so that we could put the walls back in place.

  Here we have a fascinating site but it is eroding into the sea and there is only a short amount of time to explore, study and understand it

Noel Fojut
Historic Scotland

"The rebuilding phase was remarkably quick, and it helped to round off the project. It meant that when the project was finished, there wasn't just a hole in the ground, there was something to see."

Mr Dawson hopes the project will inspire other communities to work to save the heritage of threatened coastal site around Scotland.

Noel Fojut, head of archaeology at Historic Scotland, which helped fund the scheme, added: "Here we have a fascinating site but it is eroding into the sea and there is only a short amount of time to explore, study and understand it.

"The strength of local support and community involvement in the Sandwick excavation has been remarkable and is genuinely deserved."
 
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/north_east/6253096.stm
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Trinity
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« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2007, 12:04:19 am »

Iron Age skeleton found on isle 
 


The stone disc was found tucked in beside the skeleton
Archaeologists have discovered a burial ground dating back more than 2,000 years in Shetland.
Experts who started work on the site on the island of Unst two months ago have managed to rescue artefacts and, unexpectedly, a skeleton.

The burial site at Sand Wick is believed to date back to the Iron Age and has been badly eroded by waves.

Team members believe they have obtained valuable information from the site, before it is lost to the sea.

The skeleton was found lying on its back with a polished stone disc tucked inside its mouth.

  It is already telling us a lot about how people lived in Iron Age Shetland

Dr Olivia Lelong
Archaeologist

Near the arm was a tiny ornament formed of rings of copper alloy and bone which the team believes was some kind of pendant.

Team members also found hundreds of sherds of pottery, limpet shells and animal bones left over from ancient meals.

The project received 50,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund and 20,000 from Historic Scotland.

Link to past

The dig was carried out by specialists from Glasgow University, Scottish Coastal Archaeology and the Problems of Erosion Trust (Scape) and local volunteers.

The university's Dr Olivia Lelong said: "The skeleton was a totally unexpected find.

"It was a beautifully composed burial, obviously put together with a great deal of thought and care, from the way the body was placed to the objects buried with the person.

"It is a fascinating building to dig. It's rare to find walls standing so high and so much well-preserved evidence for what went on inside the cells.

"It is already telling us a lot about how people lived in Iron Age Shetland."



 
A member of the team records the detail of the grave

Head of archaeology group Shorewatch Tom Dawson said: "By excavating this eroding site, we are both obtaining valuable information before the site disappears and giving people a chance to get actively involved."

Last year, coastal communities in Scotland were urged to play a bigger part in preserving local history.

Archaeologists and other experts on natural and cultural heritage said the aim was to try to work out how to tackle the threat from erosion to thousands of historical sites.

Professor Christopher Smout, of St Andrews University, said the potential losses ranged from coastal stone age settlements to mediaeval castles, 16th Century salt pans, early harbours and Second World War defences.

He urged more recording of the coastline, undertaken by bodies like Shorewatch, to prioritise the best sites for excavation to rescue the most important artefacts.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/4370998.stm
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