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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 June 2007, 17:24 GMT 18:24 UK
'Royal' Iron Age roundhouse found
Generic roundhouse
Roundhouses were common across Scotland 2000 years ago
One of the biggest Iron Age roundhouses ever found in Scotland has been uncovered during an archaeological dig near Inverurie in Aberdeenshire.

The 2,000-year-old stone building was found in the Bennachie hills on the site of an earlier Bronze Age fort.

The archaeologists who uncovered it said the size of the building suggested it was inhabited by society's elite.

But they said it was impossible to say what relationship the owners had with Roman soldiers living in nearby camps.

The 20m wide roundhouse was lived in by the predecessors of the Picts around the time of the Roman invasions of northern Scotland.

It is impossible to say whether those in the roundhouse fled, resisted or befriended the Romans when they arrived
Murray Cook
AOC Archaeology

It was found in an area known as Maiden Castle, at the foot of the Bennachie range's Mither Tap peak.

A 20-strong team of professional archaeologists, students and local volunteers have spent the last two weeks excavating and mapping the site.

It was led by Murray Cook, of Edinburgh-based AOC Archaeology, who said the people living in the house would have been farmers growing a mixture of crops and keeping a stock of animals.

He added: "It is one of the biggest roundhouses in Scotland and is certainly what we would class as an elite residence.

"It is from period running from 200 BC to 200 AD, when the most substantial roundhouses were being built across Scotland."

The roundhouse was surrounded by a cobbled road. Mr Cook said the inhabitants would have engaged in long-distance trade, and would almost definitely have been aware of the Roman presence to the south.

He added: "They might have been around when the Romans invaded northern Scotland and there are Roman marching camps nearby.

"But it is impossible to say whether those in the roundhouse fled, resisted or befriended the Romans when they arrived. We have only really scratched the surface of the site so far."

The work was done as part of a survey by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland.

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