Thursday, April 02, 2009


The remains of a hilltop home believed to be about 5,000 years old have been discovered on the outskirts of Edinburgh. The Neolithic roundhouse, found on a site where a quarry is due to be expanded, is one of the oldest prehistoric buildings to be discovered in the Scottish capital.

Archaeologists have hailed it as one of the most important finds ever made in Edinburgh because of its age - about the same as Skara Brae in Orkney - and unique location. It is also expected to help fill in a largely unknown chapter in Scottish history, when farming had only recently spread to Britain from Europe.

The site enjoys spectacular views across the Lothians and Fife. Experts believe the roundhouse was probably built by one of the first families of farmers to start producing their own food in the area.

Experts from Glasgow University's Archaeological Research Division have spent several months working in the area, which is already home to the remains of two prehistoric hill forts. The house, remains of which were found in a huge circular ditch, was surrounded by a larger egg-shaped enclosure. Although no materials such as pottery have been discovered, archaeologists have been able to date flint recovered from the site, and the remains of an internal fireplace were found.

The site is thought to be roughly the same age as the cairn at Cairnpapple Hill, which is widely regarded as Scotland's most prehistoric burial site and can be seen from the new site.

Donna Maguire, project director, said there may once have been a number of settlements on the hill, lost when quarrying began in the area more than 150 years ago. The discovery was only made because Edinburgh City Council insisted that an archaeological dig was carried out before construction giant Tarmac was allowed to expand its quarrying operation in the area.

John Lawson, the city council's archaeologist, added: "Although remains of buildings discovered at Cramond within the last ten years have been dated to 8,500 years ago, this is one of the most significant prehistoric sites to have been found in the wider
Edinburgh area for many years."

Source: (23 March 2009)


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