| 4 November 2004
Standing stone at modern opencast site in Scotland
Four human cremation burial plots have been uncovered at the Kingslaw opencast site on the outskirts of Kirkcaldy (Fife, Scotland). The discovery was made by Fife Council archaeologists as they removed the 4000-year-old Bogleys Standing Stone from the Kingslaw development, which is currently being mined, before being turned into a business and leisure facility.
Moving and protecting the ancient Bronze Age stone was part of an archaeological condition laid down before planning permission was given. Fife Council archaeologist Douglas Speirs said: "The Bogleys Stone was probably erected about 4,000 years ago. It is the last visible vestige of what must have been a highly charged area of ritual landscape. The stone is massive, standing some seven feet above ground and weighing more than five tons. Exactly how the stone was used is not entirely clear, but archaeological excavations have shown that complex religious ceremonies, including the symbolic burial of human remains around the stone was practised. Indeed, four human cremation burials were found radiating out around the stone."
Samples from the excavation have now been sent to a university in Holland for carbon dating to establish when the cremations took place. Mr Speirs added: "Having now lifted the stone, we know that nothing actually lies underneath it. The likelihood is that it marked the general focus of a prehistoric ritual site rather than actually sitting on top of some specific deposit. There is a strong tradition that the stone was lifted and examined some time in the 1840s by local antiquarians who believed that the stone marked the spot of a great Viking chief killed in battle many centuries before. The size of the stone makes it unlikely that it was actually lifted, but it is not impossible that inquisitive antiquarians might have dug around it to see what they could find. Fortunately, the stone is sitting in a secure solid stone socket cut directly in the underlying solid geology and the excavations showed that the archaeological deposits around the stone had not been substantially disturbed."
After a complex engineering operation the stone was removed and is currently in storage. It is due to be returned to the site in three years time when the coal extraction is complete. It is planned to re-erect the stone as close to its original position as possible along with a plaque explaining its history stone and its excavation.
Source: Fife Today (29 October 2004)
Share this webpage: