|31 August 2008
Chariot find at Iron Age settlement site
Archaeologists have uncovered a small - but vital - clue to the use of a chariot in Moray (Grampian, Scotland). The piece for a horse harness was found during the latest dig at an Iron Age site at Birnie, near Elgin. Dr Fraser Hunter, of the National Museums of Scotland, said it was further evidence of the high status of its inhabitants. Glass beads that may have been made at Culbin Sands, near Nairn, in the Highlands, a dagger and quern stones for making flour have also been found previously.
An army of archaeologists, students and volunteers have slowly been excavating two roundhouses that date back to 2,000 years ago. Two further years of work are planned before the site is restored to farmland. An open day allowing the public to tour the dig will be held on 7 September.
Dr Hunter said the metal piece for a horse harness was among this summer's finds. He said: "It comes from a chariot and it shows something of the contacts these people had and their aspirations, I suppose. The chariot was the flashy run around of the period." The horse-drawn transport and equipment may have come from the south of Scotland, or north England.
The team have been painstakingly picking through the remains of one of the roundhouses, which was badly damaged in a fire. The blaze has "fossilised" oak timber beams and seeds, but the process of excavation has been described as being like "digging through a bonfire". Previously, a fire investigation officer with Grampian Fire and Rescue Service and a Grampian Police scenes of crime officer helped to determine that the fire was started deliberately. The pair were able to point to a fire being started at the base of the inside wall. What is not known is whether this was while the house was still in use, or at the end of its life.
Source: BBC News (28 August 2008)
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