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Dig at ruins uncovered by storm

27 June 07 01:08 GMT

Archaeologists are excavating the remains of houses believed to date back 2,000 years after they were uncovered by a ferocious storm.

Fife-based charity Scottish Coastal Archaeology and the Problem of Erosion (Scape) is leading a community project at the site on North Uist.

Scape is investigating the suspected Iron Age round houses before they vanish in another powerful storm.

The organisation is also carrying out work at another historic site in Brora.

Violent weather exposed the ruined houses at Baile Sear, North Uist, in January 2005.

Tragically, a family of five died on Benbecula in the same storm.

Scape co-ordinator Tom Dawson, a research fellow at the University of St Andrews, said Historic Scotland was helping to fund the project at Baile Sear.

He said: "People had seen bits and pieces of the remains before, but as the cobbles and sand washed away the structures are just sitting there on the beach.

"There are thought to be two roundhouses. We believe they are Iron Age making them 2,000 years old."

Scape has started investigating the remains of salt pans on sand dunes at Brora in Sutherland.

The large metal trays were filled with sea water and heated below by fires fuelled by coal from a nearby pit to produce salt.

Brora is the location of the most northerly deep mine in the British Isles and coal was dug from it from 1598 until 1974.

A total of 15 miners died in a coal mine roof fall in the 18th Century.

Set up in 2001, Scape has helped Historic Scotland survey the Scottish coastline for archaeological sites.

Mr Dawson said climate change posed a serious threat to many of the relics record so far.

He said: "Erosion has always happened, but it is said that climate change and global warming will leave Scotland one of the places worst affected by storms."

The charity has been targeting its resources at sites where the local communities have shown a willingness to excavate or try and protect them.

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