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16 September 2005
Ancient drowned forest discovered in Scotland

Underwater archaeologists in Perthshire (Scotland) have made the incredible discovery of a drowned forest, thought to date from the Neolithic period some 5000 years ago. Stunned divers spotted the ancient wooded area as they worked in Loch Tay. The eerie find is sure to excite scientists of all disciplines as it could represent the earliest surviving remains of Scotland’s native woodland.
     Preliminary surveys in the 14 mile long loch—carried out by the Scottish Trust for Underwater Archaeology (STUA) have identified well preserved fallen oak and elm trees as well as a series of oak upright trunks embedded in layers of gravel and silt. Many of the fallen trees have survived in odd shapes, creating a spooky landscape protruding from the loch bed.
     Timber samples taken by the STUA dive team yesterday produced radiocarbon dates of 3200 BCE and 2500 BCE. "Other neolithic forest remains have been located in Scotland eroding out of peat bogs, but there is no sign of peat having been present at the site in Loch Tay," said a spokesman. "The inundated woodland is believed to represent the old natural shoreline, now some 10 to 15 metres from the current waterfront."
     Samples of the timbers themselves can help tree-ring studies which, together with analysis of the sediments, plant remains, and pollen, can assist with climate change studies.
     The STUA is best known for its crannog research throughout Scotland and the creation of the award-winning Scottish Crannog Centre at Kenmore. STUA chairman and research fellow at Edinburgh University Dr Nicholas Dixon was delighted to learn of the new discovery. "Now we hope this discovery will allow us to get the research funding required to launch a multi-disciplinary study into loch level and environmental changes over the last 5000 years," he said.

Source: The Courier (12 September 2005)

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