|16 January 2012
5,000-year-old pottery found on Scottish island
Last year, fishermen, beachcombers, divers and islanders in the Western Isles of Scotland were asked for information on where archaeologists might find ancient sites along shorelines. The project involves the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS), WA Coastal and Marine, Historic Scotland and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.
The experts are now working on confirming, dating and analysing the sites and relics they were alerted to, along with aerial photographs of the locations. Finds included Neolithic pottery found by a diver in Loch an Duna, on Lewis. A previously unknown complex of fish traps and evidence of occupation south of Lochboisdale on South Uist have also been found.
Dr Jonathan Benjamin, of WA Coastal and Marine, said local knowledge was key to the first major study of the Western Isles' marine archaeology. He said: "As full-time archaeologists we don't have the benefit of observing the shoreline between the low and high tides, day in and day out, year after year. That's why we're relying on the knowledge of people who live and work on or near the sea, and who might have noticed something out of the ordinary, either in a fishing net, or at an especially low tide. We're also explaining to people the sorts of things that we're interested in, because they may have seen or noticed things in the past, but disregarded them as not important."
The Western Isles have been giving up their ancient secrets in recent centuries. Udal, a site on North Uist, has evidence of occupation for every age from the Neolithic to the 20th Century
Edited from BBC News (12 January 2012)
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