Page last updated at 13:47 GMT, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 14:47 UK

Grave discovered at royal centre

The grave
The grave contained artefacts including a bronze dagger with a gold band

Archaeologists have discovered an early Bronze Age grave and artefacts at the site of a centuries old royal centre.

The 4000-year-old burial chamber was uncovered near Forteviot, Perthshire.

Few remains of the body were found, but the archaeologists said it would have lain on a bed of quartz pebbles in sand, in a large stone coffin.

A bronze dagger with a gold band was discovered inside the grave, along with a leather bag, wooden objects and plant matter, which could be floral tributes.

The discovery was made by archaeologists from Glasgow and Aberdeen universities.

They found a large sandstone slab, weighing four tons, in 2008 but had to wait a year for it to be lifted.

Last week, a crane was brought in and the 4,000 year old grave was revealed.

Along with the grave goods, carvings were also found on the underside of the slab.

It is thought the markings may represent an axe and show that the deceased was an important person.

The capstone of the grave
The capstone of the grave featured carvings, possibly of an axe

Dig co-director, Dr Kenneth Brophy, said: "The high quality of preservation is virtually unique in Britain and is of exceptional importance for understanding the important centuries when metals were first introduced into Scotland."

Forteviot is seen as an important Pictish royal centre.

The death of Kenneth MacAlpin, one of the first kings of a united Scotland, was recorded at the palace of Forteviot in 858 AD.

Professor Stephen Driscoll, another co-director working on the dig, said: "This excavation is part of a long-term project to study the link between the emerging kingdom of medieval Scotland and its ancient prehistoric remains.

"This burial provides the strongest evidence of the presence of ancestral graves which may have been regarded as mythological heroes by the Picts who were also buried nearby in Forteviot."

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