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27 July 2004
Dig team baffled over tribe who abandoned Iron Age fort

Archaeologists are investigating a 2200-year-old mystery surrounding one of Scotland's rare Iron Age clifftop forts. Excavations have revealed that the unusual fortification, 100ft up a cliff on the Galloway coast, was suddenly and inexplicably abandoned by the Novantae, an early Scottish people. Work at the prehistoric settlement at Carghidown, near the Isle of Whithorn, has contributed to a better understanding of the little-known tribe who lived in what today is south-west Scotland.
     The tribespeople went to considerable lengths to fortify the small promontory fort and obscure it from the view of would-be attackers. However, experts have been baffled by the discovery that the tribes left the site almost overnight, abandoning their building works to the elements. "We discovered that Carghidown was defended by a deep ditch and a substantial stone rampart," said Ronan Toolis, the project officer, who led the archaeology team.
"Within the site was a roundhouse, which the excavation revealed had undergone several changes before it was abandoned. We discovered at least three successive floor surfaces within the roundhouse. The last floor surface, however, had not been finished.  Along with the incomplete construction of another roundhouse within the site and the evidence for the dismantlement of the stone rampart, this may suggest that Carghidown was deliberately abandoned, perhaps rather abruptly."
     The excavation team recovered the remains of occupation at Carghidown, including stone tools and a considerable amount of charcoal, which will provide dating evidence for the site.

Source: The Herald (26 July 2004)

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