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News / Storms expose iron age skeleton

2,000 years old human remaions were exposed by the storms - Photos: Shetland Amenity Trust

SHETLAND’S pre-Christmas storms have revealed remains of an iron age building and a human skeleton believed to be 2,000 years old.

Archaeologists said a structure was briefly exposed at Channerwick before being buried again by a rockfall over the festive period.

Before it disappeared from view, police officers and archaeologists were able to investigate the site and take a bone sample for radiocarbon dating.

Shetland Amenity Trust assistant archaeologist Chris Dyer said: “The skeleton, initially reported by a local resident, looked as if it were contemporary with the Iron Age remains.

“The original burial now lies under several tons of fallen bank and the Iron Age structures have also disappeared from view.”

County archaeologist Val Turner added that during the investigation she and freelance colleague Samantha Dennis discovered evidence of at least one, and possibly two other burials.

Turner said that the force 10 easterly storms had damaged archaeological sites along the entire east coast of Shetland. 

In South Nesting as much as a metre has been lost of an Iron Age site at Gletness.

And a Viking site above the beach at the Easting on Unst, originally excavated and consolidated by the Unst Archaeology Group and Glasgow University, has been partially lost to the sea.

“We are fortunate to have a record of these sites as a result of earlier work but coastal erosion is an ever present feature of archaeology in Shetland,” she said.

“Shetland Amenity Trust’s archaeology section would be keen to hear from anyone who knows of other sites which may have appeared or been eroded by the storms.

“We are hoping that once we have an indication of just how great a problem has been created in the last few weeks, we will be able to formulate an action plan.”

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