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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 July 2006, 16:23 GMT 17:23 UK
Excavation unearths burial site
The burial site is believed to date back to the 6th Century
Archaeologists believe they may have discovered one of the oldest churches in Scotland during an excavation in Aberdeen.

They are awaiting test results which will confirm whether they have uncovered a religious burial site dating back to the 6th Century.

The find was made during Scotland's biggest archaeological dig in the east kirk of St Nicholas Church.

So far 300 skeletons have been unearthed, far more than expected.

The excavation is part of a 5m renovation of the site.

Aberdeen City Council's assistant archaeologist Alison Cameron said the excavation was providing invaluable insight into ancient burial practices.

She said: "There are very few church excavations of this type which have been able to reveal parts of churches or burials of that date and also the number of burials that we're getting of this early date.

Archaeologist working on skeleton
Archaeologists have been carefully cleaning the skeletons

"Some of them are in stone-lined coffins and some of them in split wooden logs, and so it is extremely important."

A dedicated team of archaeologists, students and some members of the church congregation have been working on the site since January.

Egyptologist Abeer Ralston said: "We've found a lot of burials here which have to be recorded. We take photographs and take every measurement."

Rev Stephen Taylor, a minister of the Kirk of St Nicholas, said there would be a service at the end of the project and all the bodies would be reinterred under the church floor.

See the excavation taking place

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