Page last updated at 07:58 GMT, Tuesday, 8 April 2008 08:58 UK

Bay could reveal Viking secrets

Up Helly Aa on Shetland
Vikings began making incursions on Caithness in the 9th Century

A bay in the far north of Scotland is to be searched by archaeologists in the hope of uncovering Viking artefacts.

Items have been found at opposite ends of Dunnet Bay in Caithness, but the links area have not been thoroughly investigated before.

Test pits will be dug and soil samples analysed by a new, community-owned archaeological research centre.

The base is housed within Castletown Heritage Society's premises in a former farm steading at Castlehill.

Muriel Murray, the society's chairwoman, said the new facility, particularly the jobs it will create, and the proposed search of the bay were exciting developments.

She said: "The middle of the bay is an obvious area to look.

"At the Castletown end of the bay there is a broch and on top of that a Viking bronze brooch and jet pin were found."

Two full-time and one part-time job for local graduates will be created by AOC Archaeology Group at the new Castletown research centre.

They will work on materials from sites excavated nearby and also from throughout the UK.

Staff will use a process called wet sieving and sort archaeological soil samples, document the results and dispatch materials for expert analysis.

Several place names in Caithness reflect its links with Vikings, who began making incursions on the area in the 9th Century.

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