Dig­ging deep in High­lands to step back 8,000 years

Ar­chae­ol­ogy: Tar­radale Through Time team find 8,000-year-old arte­fact

The Press and Journal (Inverness) - - FRONT PAGE - BY ALISTAIR MUNRO

An ar­chae­o­log­i­cal dig in the High­lands has dis­cov­ered sig­nif­i­cant finds dat­ing back more than 8,000 years.

The team work­ing on the Tar­radale Through Time project at Muir of Ord has found pieces of red deer antlers that are be­lieved to have been used as picks.

An ar­chae­o­log­i­cal dig in the High­lands has dis­cov­ered sig­nif­i­cant finds dat­ing back more than 8,000 years.

The team work­ing on the Tar­radale Through Time project at Muir of Ord has found pieces of red deer antlers that are be­lieved to have been used as picks. Team mem­ber James McCo­mas said one antler was dated to the Mesolithic pe­riod of around 6,5006,000BC.

The piece of antler tine was found to have a hole bored or drilled right through it, mak­ing it most likely to have been used as the head of a pick.

They then dis­cov­ered

“Clean­ing around the area re­vealed a fur­ther antler”

the prob­a­ble base of a large antler – con­ceiv­ably elk rather than deer.

He said: “Clean­ing around the area re­vealed a fur­ther antler or tine in situ. It was de­cided to clean, record and re­move this arte­fact then and there rather than risk dam­age by leav­ing it.

The team then ex­ca­vated two fur­ther antlers with­out tines and what ap­peared to be a piece of skull.

“The con­di­tion was fairly poor and there were a num­ber of breaks, but it seemed to have been de­posited largely com­plete and it was clearly not from same an­i­mal as the antler base.

“It was im­pos­si­ble to re­have move the item whole, but we did man­age to up­lift it suc­cess­fully in sev­eral large chunks. Al­though it could prove to be much more re­cent, we are hop­ing for Mesolithic dates.

The North of Scot­land Ar­chae­o­log­i­cal So­ci­ety won al­most £70,000 from the Her­itage Lot­tery Fund to carry out the com­mu­nity ar­chae­ol­ogy project in the Black Isle, with ad­di­tional fund­ing from His­toric En­vi­ron­ment Scot­land and a pri­vate do­na­tion.

Or­gan­ised by lo­cal vol­un­teers, the project is aimed at un­cov­er­ing the im­por­tant but largely un­recog­nised ar­chae­o­log­i­cal her­itage of the Tar­radale area. Over the years lo­cal ar­chae­ol­o­gists re­alised that there is a rich ar­chae­o­log­i­cal her­itage be­low the sur­face.

Pre­his­toric flints, an­cient pot­tery and early me­tal tools have been found on the sur­face of ploughed fields and other ev­i­dence sug­gests that peo­ple have been liv­ing in the area since at least 6500 BC.

How­ever, it is a her­itage that is slowly dis­ap­pear­ing and the project will con­duct a num­ber of fo­cused ex­ca­va­tions in the area to es­tab­lish the de­gree of sur­vival of ar­chae­o­log­i­cal re­mains be­low the plough soil.

GET­TING DEEP: Arche­ol­o­gists un­cov­ered a piece of worked antler as they ex­plore the site at Muir of Ord

The piece of antler had a hole drilled through it

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