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19 April 2004
Prehistoric finds at a housing site in Scotland

Archaeologists will have a greater understanding of the lives of the people who built great ritual monuments following excavations at one of Scotland's largest rural settlements. A dig at a new housing development in Dreghorn, Ayrshire, has revealed major medieval remains and Neolithic features including the site of a ceremonial pole, houses and a pottery kiln.
     The site suggests a 5000-year-old village similar in scale to the group of stone houses at Skara Brae, Orkney. Large amounts of grooved ware pottery, a decorated ceramic that seems to have evolved in Scotland and is found across the UK at ceremonial monuments including henge earthworks and timber structures, were also found.
     Tom Addyman, excavation director of Addyman Associates, who carried out the ongoing dig at the housing development, said: "This was part of a five-acre development where it was suspected from documents, including an aerial photograph taken in the 1940s, that there was evidence of prehistoric remains. Once we had gone in and tested the ground by cutting strips across the land, we found two or three corn-drying kilns. Very often these kilns caught alight and the grain turned to charcoal that could be dated to the thirteenth century. There had been a hint of prehistory but we excavated a two-acre trench and at the top of the slope there was a great deal more prehistoric activity behind the village street."
     Mr Addyman added: "We found 750-odd pieces of grooved ware, which is one of the largest collections in the south-west of Scotland. The area is now known as a type site for the Neolithic period, which means that all other sites will be compared to this one."
     Mike Pitts, editor of British Archaeology magazine, said: "Finding evidence at this date for settlement, in the form of building foundations and for pottery making, is extremely rare, and promises to help us understand the lives of the people who built the great ritual monuments like henges and early stone circles."

Source: The Herald (19 April 2004)

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