Prehistoric settlement uncovered in Aberdeenshire

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Overlooking the complex series of Bronze or Iron Age structures uncovered near Cruden Bay, Aberdeenshire. CREDIT: Cameron Archaeology

Evidence for an extensive settlement, possibly dating to either the Bronze Age or Iron Age, has been uncovered on the outskirts of Cruden Bay in Aberdeenshire, on a site overlooking the North Sea. It is the first major prehistoric site to be identified near Cruden Bay, making it an important discovery to add to our growing knowledge of Aberdeenshire during this period.

The features were uncovered during excavations by Cameron Archaeology in advance of the construction of a new housing development. Ali Cameron of Cameron Archaeology has been working on the site since 2017, and this previous work had already revealed the presence of prehistoric structures. It was not fully appreciated just how large this settlement was, however, until it was fully opened up.

Commenting on the discovery, Ali Cameron said: ‘The site is higher up and you get this fantastic view over the bay. It’s a great location and you can imagine why people wanted to settle there.’

Previous ploughing of the area had destroyed many parts of the site, but so far the outlines of at least 23 structures have been revealed, encompassing a complex series of post-hole constructions, ring-ditches with stake holes, and some possible enclosures along with a handful of pottery and flint tools. Contextual evidence suggests that the settlement possibly dates between 800 BC and AD 400. But with over 300 samples of charcoal and other organic matter recovered from several layers of the site, radiocarbon dating will hopefully be able to determine a more precise timeline of the settlement’s evolution.

It is also hoped that post-excavation analysis will be able to reveal more about the use of this site: the initial excavation did not reveal whether these structures were purely domestic in nature or whether they served some other purpose. Closer examination of some of the small finds should make the picture clearer.

Ali added: ‘It could be that this was more of an industrial site. There are so many buildings over a huge area. We have got a lot more work to do.’

This news article appears in issue 370 of Current Archaeology. To find out more about subscribing to the magazine, click here.

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