| 4 January 2015
New project to reveal history of unusual Scottish hill fort
A three-year project due to start in 2015 will include the first ever archaeological excavations of the ancient Dun Deardail hill fort, high on a rocky knoll near Ben Nevis, the 1344-metre-high remains of a collapsed volcanic dome in the Highlands of Scotland. The site itself has not been dated, however digs at similar sites indicate it may have been built and occupied - perhaps over several periods - between 700 BCE and 900 CE.
The fort is a rare and important example of vitrification - a process by which intense heat from a man-made fire causes material within the perimeter wall to partially melt and fuse. As part of the investigation, a short stretch of timber-laced drystone rampart will be built and subsequently fired. Forestry Commission Scotland archaeologist Matt Ritchie says: "This is experimental archaeology, attempting to recreate the process of vitrification visible in the conglomerated lumps of burnt rock in the ramparts of Dun Deardail." Temperatures above 1,000 degrees Celsius are needed to melt the rocks together.
Edited from The Press and Journal (26 December 2014)
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