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9 July 2003
Final season for Iron Age village excavation

Work has begun for the ninth and final season on Britain’s largest excavation: an Iron Age village at the Scatness broch, at the southern tip of the Shetland Islands (Scotland).
     Since 1995, when the Shetland Amenity Trust purchased the land and raised the funds to begin the first phase of activity, experts and students of Bradford University’s archaeological department have uncovered a maze of stone buildings that were continually inhabited for over a thousand years. Over the years Old Scatness has been revealed to be a wealthy Pictish settlement that produced top-of-the-range bronzeware, from weapons to jewellery, and its people enjoyed a luxurious diet of beef and supped locally produced ale. Last year’s prize find was a Pictish carving of a bear, provoking debate as to whether bears roamed the islands, or whether the artist was depicting a bear he or she had encountered in their travels north or south of the isles.
     The site has also become a laboratory for scientific research into new dating techniques. However, this year the site will be prepared for its long-term future as a visitor centre. County archaeologist Val Turner said, “Work on the village will be completed at the end of this season, and we will be consolidating it in the autumn. We will stabilize everything and instead of covering it up we will leave it open and turn it into a year-round tourist attraction.” It is also hoped that Shetland folk will play a role in creating the Iron Age atmosphere for visitors to Scatness in the years ahead.
     Still the amenity trust hopes to maintain future smaller-scale digs on different parts of the site.

Source: Shetland Times (2 July 2003)

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