Sunday, January 20, 2019


haeologists have found evidence of early human activity at a submerged prehistoric forest in the Western Isles.
Lionacleit in Benbecula is one of more than 20 recorded sites of ancient woodland that once grew in the islands.
The remains included an early butchery site and stone tools used for preparing food. Archaeologists have described the discoveries at Lionacleit as "extra special". They found the remains of the area where animals had been butchered for food during studies of the site last year. Bone was also found with a piece of quartz from a stone tool and a quern stone, which was used for grinding food.

The Scottish Coastal Archaeology and the Problem of Erosion (Scape) Trust, a charity that works out of the University of St Andrews, was alerted to the remains by local resident Ann Corrrance Monk. Joanna Hambly, a research fellow at Scape, said: "An unexpected discovery during the fieldwork was the realization that archaeological remains survived in the intertidal zone.

"These include a wall, the possible remains of sub-circular stone structures which could be houses, a quern stone and butchered animal bone associated with struck quartz tools. "To find the remains of a butchery site is incredibly rare - the survival of a single action in prehistory preserved in intertidal peats."

The sub-fossil trees at Lionacleit are the remnants of woodland that was once widespread across the Western Isles. Sub-fossils are matter that has been partially rather than fully fossilised. Scape said the forest was at its peak about 10,000 to 7,000 years ago and was a rich mix of birch, hazel, willow, aspen, rowan, oak, Scots pine, alder, ash and elm. From 6,000 to 4,500 years ago the woodland declined, and by about 2,800 to 2,500 years ago the isles "were more or less treeless", said Scape.

"None of these factors is unique to the Western Isles, but the trees growing here were at the limit of their environmental tolerance and so unlike other places, the forest didn't regenerate," said Dr Hambly. As well as the archaeological finds, more than 300 trees were mapped, sampled and identified. The majority of the trees were willow, with the occasional birch and Scots pine.

Archaeologists believe the site includes the possible remains of dwellings
The site at Lionacleit, along with others in the Western Isles, is at risk of coastal erosion.
She added: "When the radiocarbon dates have been processed, we will write up the story of Lionacleit and review what further research could be done at this fantastic site - or at similar sites.



Post a Comment

<< Home