|11 December 2011
Prehistoric artefacts unearthed on Scotland's Western Isles
New research is being carried out on artefacts recovered from a site at Udal (North Uist, Outer Hebrides, Scotland) where achaeology provides an 'unbroken timeline' of occupation from the Neolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Viking, Medieval through to the 1900s.
Archaeologist Ian Crawford excavated Udal between 1963 and 1995. The earliest Neolithic layers he revealed consisted of a line of stones with a large upright stone nicknamed 'the great auk stone' because of its resemblance to the extinct seabird. A deep shaft containing quartz pebbles which had been covered over with a whale's vertebrae was also uncovered.
From the Bronze Age, finds included a skeleton and from the Iron Age evidence of metal work. Also from the Iron Age were the remains of homes dubbed Jelly Baby houses because the shape of them looked like the sweets.
Crawford's collection is in the care of Western Isles local authority, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar. Some of the evidence at the site was preserved by wind-blown sand dunes, and Comhairle said the preservation of relics was rare outside of the Middle East. It believes the site on the Grenitote peninsula to be one of the most important of its kind in the world.
The comhairle has received a grant from the Museum Association's Esmee Fairbairn Collections Fund to carry out the most complete post-excavation research to be done so far on the site and its finds. Money from the grant will also be used to investigate the potential for an archaeological resource centre on North Uist.
Councillor Archie Campbell said: "The local community has been waiting nearly 50 years to learn about what was discovered beneath the sand dunes and to see the finds for themselves. This grant will go towards achieving that vision by funding a feasibility study into the potential of the Udal collections as the basis for an archaeological resource centre and the impact it would have on the islands' economy."
Edited from BBC News (7 December 2011)
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