Highlands & Islands

Stone Age hunter-gather camp found at Berriedale Braes

Road improvements at Berriedale Braes Image copyright Transport Scotland
Image caption Improvements are being made to the A9 at Berriedale Braes

Work to improve a notorious hairpin bend on the A9 in the Highlands has revealed the site of a hunter-gatherers' camp.

Archaeologists made the finds from the Mesolithic, the Middle Stone Age, in an excavation carried out ahead of construction work at Berriedale Braes.

Evidence of the camp includes an array of stone tools, such as flints.

Archaeologists believe the finds date from 6,000 BC and that the camp was used as a base for hunting.

Image copyright Pat Haynes
Image caption An illustration of the Mesolithic camp

Transport Secretary Michael Matheson viewed the finds on a visit to the construction site.

He said: "The finds unearthed here at Berriedale Braes are truly fascinating and provide a rare glimpse into Scotland's ancient past.

"Indeed, the archaeologists believe the finds are all that survive of some of the earliest traces of humans to have lived in the area and provide evidence of life in the far north of Scotland thousands of years ago."

The archaeological finds will be displayed for the public to view at Dunbeath Heritage Museum in the coming weeks.

Image copyright Transport Scotland
Image caption Flints have been recovered from the site
Image copyright Transport Scotland
Image caption Archaeologist Mary Peteranna and Transport Secretary Michael Matheson

The A9 drops from a height 150m (492ft) to 20m (65ft) as it enters a valley at the braes in Caithness. It is one of the most challenging stretches of the trunk road.

The project to make improvements to the hairpin bend will cost £9.6m.

Image copyright Transport Scotland
Image caption A lorry negotiates the hairpin at Berriedale Braes

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