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Archaeologists have discovered evidence of a settlement which may date again to the Iron Age on one among Europe’s most inhospitable islands.
It had been thought that no people had ever lived on the St Kilda island of Boreray, 40 miles west of the Outer Hebrides in the Atlantic Ocean.
Inhabitants of nearby Hirta island used to visit Boreray only in the summer to hunt birds and gather wool, a apply which ended in the early 20th century.
Location, location: Evidence of a permanent settlement dating from as far back as the iron Age has been discovered on the inhospitable St Kilda island of Borera
Rugged landscapes: Boreray was previously thought to have been too difficult an area for any settlements to flourish
But the new discovery suggests that folks could have lived on the steep slopes of the island as far back as prehistoric times.
The remaining 36 inhabitants of the St Kilda archipelago have been evacuated from the islands at their own request in 1930.
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Archaeologists from the Royal Commission on the Historical and Historic Monuments (RCAHMS) of Scotland and the National Trust for Scotland made the new discovery on an eight-day research trip to Boreray.
RCAHMS Surveyor Ian Parker mentioned: ‘This is an incredibly significant find which might change our understanding of the historical past of St Kilda.
‘Until now we thought Boreray was simply visited for seasonal hunting and gathering by the folks of Hirta.
‘But this new discovery shows that a farming group really lived on the island, perhaps as long ago because the prehistoric interval.
Farmed: Though the island has very steep slopes, the workforce found remnants of an agricultural field system and crop terraces
‘These agricultural remains and settlement mounds give us a tantalising glimpse into the lives of those who lived for a time on Boreray.
‘Farming what is probably one of the remote and inhospitable islands within the North Atlantic would have been a tough and gruelling existence.
‘And given the island’s unfeasibly steep slopes, it is wonderful that they even tried living there in the first place.’
The team found remnants of an agricultural field system and crop terraces.
Wildlife: Boreray is understood for its biodiversity as well as cultural heritage, both recognised by Unesco
Three potential settlement mounds were also uncovered. One of these contained the intact remains of a stone building with a ‘corbelled’ roof, sealed by soil over the centuries.
The archaeologists think some of the stays might date casquette stone island noir to the Iron Age.
St Kilda is one of 27 locations on this planet with dual World Heritage Status by Unesco in recognition of both its natural and cultural heritage.
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