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27 July 2011
7,000-year-old Scottish site was a Stone Age rest area

Archaeologists believe the remains of burned oak uncovered at the future site of Sainsbury's supermarket on the outskirts of Nairn in the Scottish Highlands to be evidence of an ancient 'rest stop'.
     In a report published on Highland Council's Historic Environment Record web site, archaeologists said the fire appeared to have been made to provide heat and not for cooking, because no food waste was found. "The lack of any other Mesolithic dating on the site suggests that there was no settlement in the area, and that instead the hearth represents a temporary rest stop." Almost 2,000 flints were also recovered from the field on the city's distributor road where the store is being constructed.
     Activity in the area during the Mesolithic period is known from the discovery of a number of small flint tools along the nearby Culbin Sands (Findhorn Bay). Nomadic hunter-gatherers may have been attracted to that site because of its woodland wildlife, or to fish along its shoreline, according to Forestry Commission Scotland.
     Sainsbury's is not the first supermarket chain to have ancient history uncovered at its building sites. A Bronze Age burial site was found at the location of the first Asda supermarket in the Highlands - at Slackbuie, in Inverness - where archaeologists recorded an area of cremation pits surrounded by a ring ditch.

Edited from BBC News (19 July 2011)

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