Archaeologists have discovered the remains of an Iron Age “loch village” in Wigtownshire, the first of its kind to be found in Scotland.
Experts believe it could be “Scotland’s Glastonbury”, a reference to the lake village in Somerset.
The excavation was part-financed with £15,000 from Historic Scotland. Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop described the village discovery at Black Loch of Myrton as “an exciting and unexpected find”. The dig was carried out this summer by AOC Archaeology Group, which hopes to use the pilot excavation as the starting point for a broader programme of archaeological activity.
It is one of 55 archaeology projects to receive more than £1m in funding from Historic Scotland for 2013/14.
The Wigtownshire dig was a small-scale pilot excavation of what was initially thought to be a crannog in the now-infilled Black Loch of Myrton, which was under threat of destruction as a result of drainage operations. However during the excavation, AOC – which worked on the dig in conjunction with local volunteers – discovered evidence of multiple structures making up a small village. What initially appeared to be one of a small group of mounds before excavation was revealed to be a massive stone hearth complex at the centre of a roundhouse. The timber structure of the house has been preserved, with beams radiating out from the hearth forming the foundation, while the outer wall consists of a double-circuit of stakes. The most surprising discovery was that the house was not built on top of an artificial foundation, but directly over the fen peat which had gradually filled in the loch. Rather than being a single crannog, as first thought, it appears to be a settlement of at least seven houses built in the wetlands around the small loch. This type of site is currently unique in Scotland and there are few other comparable sites elsewhere in the British Isles.
Similar lake villages – including Glastonbury and Meare, which is also in Somerset – have been found in England, but this is the first “loch village” to be uncovered in Scotland. Experts hope that its discovery will help to improve knowledge and understanding of Iron Age Scotland.
Ms Hyslop welcomed the discovery.
“There are some excellent examples of ‘lake villages’ in England but this is the first time archaeologists have found a ‘loch village’ in Scotland,” she said. “I am pleased too that experts joined forces with local volunteers on this project and I look forward to discovering what more this important find can teach us about Iron Age Scotland.”