Iron Age burials found under Highlands cottage kitchen

Human remains discovered under the floorboards of a historic beach cottage kitchen in Applecross in the west Highlands of Scotland have been confirmed to date to the Iron Age about 2,000 years ago. The remains, found during renovations on the building in 2015, were initially believed to be around 200 years old, but radiocarbon dating revealed them to be 10 times older.

The bones were discovered when the floorboards of the kitchen in the Old Estate Office, a listed property built around 1820 on the shoreline of Applecross Bay, were torn up. Under the floor construction crews encountered a skull. The property owners called in archaeologist Cathy Dagg to excavate the find site. The team found more than they expected.

“When we got there and started cleaning it up, we realised there were a lot of skeletal remains there. When we laid them out we realised we had three lower jaw bones, so it was a multiple burial.

“There was a huge number of bone fragments because it was very mashed and really hard to work out what belonged to each skeleton.” […]

Although they were not full skeletons, archaeologists were able to determine that the bones had belonged to a total of six different people.

Applecross is home to the remains of an Iron Age broch/roundhouse that was reused and rebuilt in phases for hundreds of years. Excavations of the broch have found a wide range of artifacts, but no burials. The soil of Applecross and the west coast of the Highlands in general is very acidic, an inimical environment for the survival of bone. The only human remains discovered in six years of digs were a few fragments of burned bones in a cist found in an industrial metalworking area northwest of the broch mound.

Ms Dagg explained that the burial site had been so well preserved because it was on a raised beach with no soil.

“It was very dry,” she added. “We don’t get Iron Age burials surviving because our soils are very acidic over here so they spoil the bone.”

The six skeletons had been further protected by being under the property for hundreds of years, during its time as a merchant’s house, an estate office and a family home

Today the Estate Office is available for vacation bookings as a self-catering beach house and is a quaint stone cottage with creamy clean interiors. The company paid for the excavation and for the radiocarbon dating, so I wonder if they’ll start leaning into a more gothic pitch now that the renovation has exposed the Iron Age burial ground under the wide-plank hardwoods and stainless steel double fridges of the cottagecore kitchen.

One thought on “Iron Age burials found under Highlands cottage kitchen

  1. “Skeletons under the Floorboards, SKULDUGGERY in Applecross” 💀️

    Presumably, a “hideous crime”, but only six “different” people? Important question: What about the famous number SEVEN, i.e. the “mysterious guest”?

    Yes, maybe ‘a more gothic pitch’, but maybe also a ‘Calypsonian’ one. A popular Christmas Calypso by “Lord Executor” from the late 1930s, entitled…


    Hideous discoveries and monstrous crime
    Always happen at the Christmas time
    For the old year murders and the tragedy
    For the New Year serious calamity

    What shocked Trinidad
    Those seven skeletons that the workmen found in that yard

    What marred the Christmas festivity
    Was a New Year double catastrophe
    When a man and a woman on the ground was found
    With bloodstains upon the ground
    The husband was arrested but they were too late
    For the poison he drunk sent him to the gate

    That shocked Trinidad
    Those seven skeletons that the workmen found in that yard

    In Saint James the population went wild
    When in the savannah they found a child
    The hair was auburn and complexion pink
    Which placed the watchman in a mood to think
    “How can a mother despise and scorn
    A little angel that she has born?”

    That was more sad
    Than the seven skeletons that the workmen found in that yard

    A lorry was speeding to Port of Spain
    When it knocked down the cyclist into the drain
    It was going as fast as the lightning flash
    When the cyclist received the lash
    The mother cried out in sorrows and pain
    I am not going to see my boy-child again

    That is more sad
    Than the seven skeletons that the workmen found in that yard

    While the workmen they were digging the ground
    They bring the skulls of all human beings they found
    Feet together and head east and west
    Number five was a watchman among the rest
    Number six had the hands and the feet on the chest
    And number seven, the mysterious guest

    That shocked Trinidad
    Those seven skeletons that the workmen found in that yard

    💀️ 🌿️
    PS: For the great tune itself, check out the usual platforms.

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