RADIOCARBON dating of burnt wood unearthed at a roundhouse has given archaeologists new insights into Bronze Age life in Scotland.

National Trust for Scotland’s Thistle Camp participants joined the charity’s head of archaeological services, Derek Alexander, in an excavation in 2017 of Arran’s highest round house at 384 metres above sea level, in Coire a’ Bhradain above Glen Rosa, and dates back 3300 years.

The dig revealed a central hearth area of stone and clay with remnants of hazel charcoal. The charcoal was submitted to the Scottish University Environmental Research Centre (SUERC) for a radiocarbon date, which revealed that the round house was occupied around 1400-1300 BC.

NTS commissions radiocarbon dating on a number of select items each year to aid in the charity’s work to protect Scotland’s heritage. With no chronologically diagnostic artefacts on the site, the dating process was the only way to place the round house in the timeline of Arran’s past.

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In a report published on the findings, Alexander and his team suggest the Coire a’Bhradain site was used as temporary shelter during deer hunting trips through a pass at the top of the coire, or as a seasonal shielding site to keep grazing animals out on the hill.

The site of the roundhouse was discovered in 2001 by members of the Arran Mountain Rescue Team. It was exposed by a huge wild fire which revealed a raised circle with two prominent “doorway” stones.

Alexander said: “This was a challenging site to investigate, as it required a physically fit team for the long walk up to the site, carrying all our digging equipment.

“The post-excavation analysis helps us to build a picture of life on Arran more than 3000 years ago and our findings can be used to shape the visitor experience at the replica roundhouse at Brodick Country Park.

“Given the great weather and spectacular views we experienced it’s easy to understand why Bronze Age people would also have been attracted to this spot. Roundhouses are characteristic of the later prehistoric period in Scotland. The date of the site indicates it is of a similar date to some of the larger roundhouses, excavated at Tormore on the western side of Arran.”

National Trust for Scotland is running a Save Our Scotland appeal to raise £2.5 million to help to continue its work to protect Scotland’s built and natural heritage, after the organisation was badly hit by the coronavirus.