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1 July 2011
Prehistoric settlement on the St Kilda archipelago

Located 65km off the western coast of the Outer Hebrides, in Scotland, the St Kilda archipelago is the remotest part of the British Isles. A team comprising the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland and the National Trust for Scotland is nearing the end of a 5 year mapping survey of the islands. Using satellite and digital technology they are attempting to map a history of the human occupation. But it the findings on a particular island, Boreray, that is proving of particular interest.
     The island group was last inhabited in 1930, when the last residents were evacuated, as life on the islands had become untenable. Artifacts had been found on the main island, Hirta, which had suggested occupation stretching back to the Bronze Age, and it was thought that visits to the remoter islands, like Boreray, had been less frequent, mainly to hunt birds and gather wool from the feral sheep. But the discovery of ancient settlement mounds has cast doubt on this theory, by pointing to a more permanent occupation.
     Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External affairs, Fiona Hyslop, is quoted as saying "This extraordinary discovery is further evidence of the international importance of the St Kilda archipelago, reinforcing its value as one of Scotland's five World Heritage Sites. It is also wonderful to see the collaboration between the National Trust for Scotland and RCAHMS survey teams yielding such spectacular results".

Edited from BBC News (16 June 2011), Past Horizons (19 June 2011)

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