Page last updated at 13:46 GMT, Thursday, 26 June 2008 14:46 UK

Archaeologists claim forest find

Black Spout excavations
Archaeologists believe the site dates back to about 200 BC

Archaeologists and volunteers working at a Perthshire forest claim to have uncovered a "very exciting" find.

Excavations have revealed a stone entrance to the Black Spout enclosure, which workers believe indicates an important local person lived there.

Radiocarbon dating has also shown the site dates back to about 200 BC - it was originally though such homesteads were from the early centuries AD.

It is thought a large extended family would have lived there.

The Black Spout homestead, near Pitlochry, features a heavily-built enclosing wall, which would have contained a timber building.

Archaeologist David Strachan told the BBC Scotland news website that uncovering the unusual stone entrance gave them more important clues about the people who lived there.

He said: "They are evidently quite high status or important big houses, you could make an analogy to the big country houses in that the vast majority of people living in the area would have been living in much less substantial timber buildings.

"The feature of these walls is really a status symbol to show the importance of these buildings in that they would have been very visible in the landscape.

Every time you dig a whole you generally generate more questions for yourself
David Strachan
Archaeologist

"You can imagine them almost as sort of short, squat towers, which are perched along the straths and the edges of the lochs."

Three archaeologists and about 20 volunteers have been working at Black Spout.

The volunteers include retired people, IT workers and archaeology graduates looking for experience.

As well as the stone work, rotary querns for grinding oats and corn and loom weights used in weaving have been uncovered.

This is the fourth summer that excavations have been taking place at the site. It was supposed to be the final season, but it is hoped that the new finds will mean they will be allowed to return next year as well.

Mr Strachan said: "Every time you dig a hole you generally generate more questions for yourself, so we're trying to answer some of the outstanding archaeological questions."


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