|27 January 2005
Cave to reveal secrets of Bronze Age Scotland
Archaeologists working in a cave on the Isle of Skye, off the west coast of Scotland, hope that their investigation will reveal more about life on the island 2,000 to 3,000 years ago.
Local archaeologists Steven Birch, Martin Wildgoose and George Kozikowski began work on the site last year and have now secured Highland Council and European Leader funding to continue this year in the Uamh an Ard Achadh (Gaelic for the "cave of the high pasture") at Strath.
The site is around 60 metres in length, running along an underground stream passage, and finds so far have included stone, iron, antler and bone tools, fragments of pottery, and around 6,000 pieces of animal bone including teeth from a brown bear and a wolf.
Mr Birch became interested in the site while caving in the area, and realised that important late Bronze Age and Iron Age remains were being damaged by cavers trying to extend the passage. After securing funding last year, the archaeologists conducted a survey of the passage where the bones were discovered, collected all the disturbed material and carried out a trial excavation. A geophysical survey revealed what is believed to be the original entrance to the cave, which the team hope to reopen this year.
Now that further funding has been secured, excavations will begin in the Bone Passage, where a roughly paved floor was found below the cave's surface. Opening the original entrance will allow better lighting equipment and cameras to be taken down so that excavation work can be viewed from the surface. The geophysical survey will also be resumed and will also look at stone structures above ground, which include a roundhouse, yards, smaller cell-like buildings, and a large 'U'-shaped structure of unknown function.
Mr Birch believes that the construction of the paved floor and discrete deposits of shellfish and animal remains may indicate the possibility of ritualistic behaviour, explaining that: "From our preliminary investigations at the High Pastures site it would seem that the function of Bone Passage has changed through time. While it is possible that the cave may have been used as a natural feature in which to deposit domestic rubbish, it is also becoming increasingly obvious that people entered this dark and strange world for other reasons."
Source: The Press and Journal (21 January 2005)
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