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7 November 2009
Prehistoric burial ground discovered on Skye

A prehistoric burial ground has been discovered on Skye (Inner Hebrides, Scotland). Six slab-lined graves and six cremation pits have been unearthed on the excavation site close to Armadale pier on the Sleat peninsula. Experts say it is one of the most significant archaeological finds yet made in the Highlands.
     Flint tools and urns were found inside the graves, although skeletal remains had been damaged due to the tide. The contents of the burial site are being removed by a team of archaeologists from Inverness and Skye. They could be reconstructed and relocated to a new site at Armadale. Archaeologist Mary Peteranna said she had no inkling that the raised shingle beach overlooking the Sound of Sleat would contain a treasure trove of remains when work started in September.
     Two 'cist graves' - meaning they were short and slab-lined - were uncovered during an initial dig. Further excavations revealed a monument with an arc of three standing stones enclosing another cist, which was covered by a two-tonne capstone. Mrs Peteranna said: "The first two cists, containing two fully-intact and beautifully-decorated urns, were dated to the Bronze Age. The cist at the centre was different. This was a substantial monument, with a cist set on a totally different alignment to the first two cists, suggesting an earlier date, probably Neolithic." She added: "This is an exciting discovery for Skye and the north-west Highlands, where this type of archaeological site has not been excavated on this level."
     Mrs Peteranna said there was no evidence the land was once a settlement and it appeared to be exclusively used as a burial site.  She said its prominent location was chosen as it would be observed by sea travellers in the Sound of Sleat, while the cist at the centre would have contained a person of importance. Mrs Peteranna is now keen to excavate sections of the hills around Armadale to search for further ancient remains.

Source: The Press and Journal (4 November 2009)

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