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8 September 2005
Rare Iron Age find on Skye

Archaeologists believe they have uncovered the first Iron Age burial on the Isle of Skye (Scotland). The skeleton from about the 1st millennium BCE is thought to be that of a young female. It was found recently in an open stone-lined grave as the archaeologists worked to re-open the blocked entrance to the High Pasture Cave.
     The discovery is extremely rare. Iron Age burial sites have been found in several locations on the east coast of Scotland, but this is among the few occurrences along the country's Atlantic seacoast and the first on Skye. "The discovery of the human remains at the High Pasture's site is a very important find and will provide a unique opportunity to study a wide range of aspects of Iron Age life and death in the region," said George Kozikowski, a member of the High Pasture Cave Project.
     Experts say that bodies on the west coast in the Iron Age were disposed of in ways that left no tangible trace. This would have included leaving corpses outside to the elements and scavengers, dropping bodies into rivers or the sea, or cremation followed by the scattering of ashes. Trial excavations in the cave, in 2004, uncovered a wide range of artefacts and many well-preserved animal bones, mostly from domestic pigs. One of the pig bones has been radiocarbon-dated to between 390 BCE and 160 BCE, a time when small stone forts, lake dwellings and roundhouses were found throughout the area.
     "We now know that as some stage during the Iron Age this former entrance was deliberately sealed to the outside world and the hollow above the entrance filled with an intricate sequence of archaeological deposits in excess of four metres in depth," said archaeologist Martin Wildgoose, one of the co-directors of the project.

Source: Scotsman.com (8 September 2005)

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