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18 March 2004
Bronze Age grinder identified after 9 years

Just a few months after neolithic round houses were found on the site of a housing development on the outskirts of Forres (Moray, Scotland), a man living has unearthed more evidence of the area's historic past.
     Retired farmer Alec Mackenzie with his wife, Margaret was trying to remove a large tree root from his garden when he struck a big rock. "When I finally managed to get it, I found a large flat stone and a smaller rock buried together, " he said. The large stone was shaped like a saddle with an indention in the middle, and Mr Mackenzie left it in his garden, using it as an ornamental birdbath, where it has been for the past nine years, alongside the other smaller stone. When he finally did bring the object into the Falconer Museum in Forres, museums officer Anne Bennet said she was extremely excited about what she saw.
     "I thought straightaway that this was a saddle quern because it was so easily identifiable, " said Miss Bennet. "It is in good condition and dated somewhere between 500 BCE and 4500 BCE, so it could be more than 5,000 years old. Regional archaeologist Ian Shepherd confirmed that the piece was a saddle quern which would have been used for grinding oats into flour, and dated it from the Bronze Age.
     "I thought the stone I dug up with it was probably used for grinding down the oats on the top of the quern and milling it into flour, but apparently it was just coincidental that the two stones were dug up together, " said Mr Mackenzie. He has now donated the quern to the Falconer Museum, where it will be on display along with another large flat stone which he dug out of his garden wall two weeks ago. This time Miss Bennet was able to say that the item was an Iron Age piece and had probably been used as the top half of a rotary quern, which would also have been used for grinding oats into flour. She said this was a more common find, often uncovered throughout Scotland.

Source: Forres Gazette (17 March 2004)

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