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Archaeologists have discovered evidence of a settlement which could date back to the Iron Age on one of Europe’s most inhospitable islands.
It had been thought that no folks had ever lived on the St Kilda island of Boreray, 40 miles west of the Outer Hebrides in the Atlantic Ocean.
Inhabitants of close by Hirta island used to go to Boreray solely in the summer season 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 tough an area for any settlements to flourish
But stone island aw16 the new discovery suggests that people may have lived on the steep slopes of the island as far back as prehistoric times.
The remaining 36 inhabitants of the St Kilda archipelago had been evacuated from the islands at their own request in 1930.
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Archaeologists from the Royal Commission on the Historic and Historical 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 said: ‘This is an incredibly significant find which could change our understanding of the history of St Kilda.
‘Until now we thought Boreray was just visited for seasonal hunting and gathering by the people of Hirta.
‘But this new discovery exhibits that a farming community actually lived on the island, perhaps as long ago as the prehistoric period.
Farmed: Though the island has very steep slopes, the team 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 some of the distant and inhospitable islands in the North Atlantic would have been a hard and gruelling existence.
‘And given the island’s unfeasibly steep slopes, it’s superb that they even tried dwelling there in the first place.’
The group found remnants of an agricultural field system and crop terraces.
Wildlife: Boreray is known for its biodiversity in addition to cultural heritage, each recognised by Unesco
Three possible 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 among the remains could date to the Iron Age.
St Kilda is one of 27 places on the earth with dual World Heritage Status by Unesco in recognition of both its natural and cultural heritage.
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