|13 August 2004
Rare Iron Age burial found at Minehowe
Archaeologists working at Minehowe in Orkney, Scotland, have uncovered a complete skeleton buried under the floor of an Iron Age metalworking workshop outside the site's circular ditch.
The skeleton - just over 5ft (1.5m) long - is believed to date from the 3rd to 5th century CE, and was decorated with two bronze toe-rings and a piece of antler drilled with six holes lying on the chest. Although a full examination has still to take place, it is thought that it is the remains of a girl in her late teens or early 20s.
“This really is an incredible discovery,” explained Jane Downes from Orkney College. “It's so rare to find Iron Age burials in Scotland, let alone Orkney.”
The body was buried on its back, arms by the side, some time after the building was built, and may have had some kind of "magical" purpose, protecting the structure or the metalworkers working in it.
Nick Card, Orkney Archaeological Trust's projects manager, said: “This is definitely one of the most significant finds in Orkney in recent years. Not only do we have a complete burial, complete with grave goods, from the Iron Age - a time from which human remains are comparatively rare - but the fact it's associated with the structure is particularly interesting and makes it unique in Orkney.”
Source: Orkneyjar.com (11 August 2004)
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