Evidence that some of our prehistoric ancestors travelled considerable distances has come from two graves in Upper Largie, near Kilmartin in Argyll and Bute.

One grave contained three distinctive beakers which Alison Sheridan, of the National Museums Scotland, describes as belonging to an early, international style, best paralleled by finds from the lower Rhine region of the modern-day Netherlands. Radiocarbon dates of 2500-2280 BC from hazel charcoal from within the grave confirms an early Bronze Age date.

Though no bone was found because of the acidic nature of the local soils, the way that two of the pots had been crushed in situ suggests that the deceased was buried in a wooden coffin and covered by a stone cairn, which then fell onto the pots once the timber collapsed. The grave was surrounded by a ring ditch, about 5.5 metres in diameter, marked by posts; just to the south lay an associated arc of four larger pits that also held posts. Martin Cook, AOC Archaeology Project Officer, who directed the excavation, said the style of burial made it likely that the grave was that of a Dutch migrant.

A second grave was dug at a later date, cutting through the ring ditch, and this contained a highly unusual
bowl whose upper part is of the classic Irish style current around 2150 BC but whose four stubby feet are a Yorkshire feature. This so-called ‘hybrid polypod food vessel’ indicates the range of stylistic influences on the Kilmartin valley, an area of west Scotland with an unusually high number of standing stones, cairns and chambered tombs, during the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age.

The excavations by AOC Archaeology are funded by quarry operator M & K McLeod Ltd.

Leave a Reply