Banking the Bones

AN ALMOST intact human skull which may date back 5,000 years has been exhumed from a tomb in South Ronaldsay in Orkney.

The burial chamber containing a collection of bones was discovered by local skipper Hamish Mowatt, who caught a glimpse inside the tomb in September, when he was working the land at the Banks bistro owned by his fiancée, Carole Fletcher.

Archeologists believe the layout of the newly uncovered tomb may shed light on the rituals and beliefs of our neolithic ancestors. Dan Lee, project officer with the Orkney Research Centre for Archeology, said: "It's an important site because it gives us the chance to investigate a tomb using modern archaeological techniques.

"This site seems to have been excavated into a natural mound. They quarried out inside this natural mound, into the bedrock, and then constructed the tomb inside, laying capstones over five cells and an internal passageway.

"The doorways to the cells were sealed off with very clean clay, so, not only were they laying the tomb to rest, they were sealing it off quite carefully and deliberately. This shows the concern Orcadian neolithic society had for its ancestors."