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20 May 2014
Scottish bypass works reveal ancient artefacts

A bypass project in southern Scotland has unearthed a 'remarkable' haul of ancient artefacts. Work is almost complete on the scheme at Dunragit in Dumfries and Galloway. Scottish Transport Minister Keith Brown unveiled full details of the discoveries made during the planning and construction of the bypass. They include the earliest known Mesolithic dwellings in south west Scotland, believed to be a hunting camp dating back to 7000 BCE, and rare bead necklaces dating to around 2000 BCE, were "truly remarkable" and helped "shine a light on Scotland's ancient past".
     "The concentration of artefacts from the Mesolithic to post-medieval periods was highly unexpected, but gives an invaluable insight into the land use and settlement of south west Scotland over the past 9,000 years," Mr Brown said. "The necklaces are of particular interest because they are the first such necklaces to be uncovered in the south west of Scotland," he added.
     The finds included more than 13,500 Mesolithic flints, an early Neolithic settlement; a Bronze Age cemetery complex; Early Bronze Age stone-lined cist burials with grave goods including ceramic food vessels, a flint knife, and two rare jet bead necklaces; Bronze Age cremation urns and pottery sherds; six Iron Age roundhouses and Iron Age pottery. Among the discoveries unveiled in Edinburgh were one of two rare jet bead necklaces, the first ever uncovered in the region, dating to around 2000 BCE; a cremation urn, a beaker and a food vessel; an Iron Age brooch; flint arrow heads, a ceremonial flint dagger blade, a serrated scraper (for removing hide) and flint blade (for cutting); a stone adze (for cultivation), stone hammers and a stone gaming piece.
     Archaeologist Rod McCullagh of Historic Scotland said: "An unforeseen wealth of archaeological information has been recovered. The team of archaeologists from Amey and Guard Archaeology Ltd have uncovered the remains of dwellings and burials spanning over 7,000 years of prehistory. In addition, numerous smaller sites have been discovered which seem to relate to the use and exploitation of the land both through hunting and farming. These are exciting discoveries which offer a much richer understanding of the settlement of south-west Scotland over the past 9,000 years."
     The findings are currently being conserved and will undergo further analysis. A report by Historic Scotland will be produced to describe and explain what has been discovered along the road. Following on from the report, a decision will be made on where the various collections will be stored or put on display.

Edited from BBC News (14 May 2014), The Scotsman (15 May 2014)

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