|28 September 2001
Neolithic farmhouse discovered in Scotland
The remains of a Stone Age farmhouse, built more than 1,000 years before the pyramids, have been uncovered by archaeologists in a cornfield in Perthshire (Scotland).
The 6,000-year-old home, complete with a living area, bedroom and cooking area, lies close to Britain's longest Stone Age burial cairn near Callander. Historians believe that it and the Auchenlaich cairn were part of the same Neolithic settlement.
The discovery, by archaeologists from the universities of Glasgow and Stirling, is one of two such structures uncovered in Scotland. The other is at Balbridie, Deeside. Gordon Barclay, an archaeologist from Stirling University, said: "This type of enormous timber building is only the second of its kind ever found. This is a very important site, even longer and possibly even older than what we have found before. There is nothing like it anywhere else in Europe." The building is 25 metres long and nine metres wide with walls formed by massive timber posts each about one metre apart. A second line of posts one metre in, along with posts inside the massive room, once supported a thatched roof.
Dr Barclay said the size and built strength of the farmhouse indicated that the Neolithic people were skilled engineers. "This is no shack that somebody has thrown up. It is an enormous, very sophisticated piece of engineering, built to last. The only other evidence we had was of much smaller, lighter structures. This proves that the Neolithic people were engineers as skilled and intelligent as modern man." Because there were no metal nails, the house was made almost entirely from timber shaped to fit together with timber pegs. The farmhouse was split into compartments by light wooden partitions set into the ground. On a large sunken area to the north, the team discovered burnt red gravel, showing that fires had been regularly lit there.
The archaeologists discovered more than 200 pieces of Stone Age pottery and cereal remains which will be radiocarbon-dated. Dr Barclay said: "These were the first farmers ever to cultivate land in Scotland."
Sources: The Times (7 September 2001), News Telegraph (9 September 2001)
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