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Ancient carvings could be national treasure

ANCIENT stone carvings found on Burntisland's Binn Hill have excited major interest among archaeologists.

As a result they look likely to be designated a scheduled ancient monument, given the same status as national treasures such as Edinburgh Castle. And local enthusiasts hope it could prompt a fresh archaeological survey of the whole area, believing more discoveries could be waiting. The object of such excitement is a set of rock carvings thought to be about 4000 years old and of a design rare in Scotland and almost unique in Fife.

Fife Council Archaeologist Douglas Speirs enthused: "It's fantastic - truly amazing. The carvings are what is called a cup and ring design on a large boulder, with a spiral carved out on a nearby rockface. They are about 4000 years old - which means they were already about 3000 years old when the famous carvings were made in the Wemyss Caves. We know of examples of this style mainly from Perthshire and Argyll, and even there they are rare, so to find one here in Fife is hugely important. The fact that one of the cup and ring marks has not been completed gives us confirmation of the method used to carve them."

The find has also excited Historic Scotland, which is set to declare the site a scheduled ancient monument, giving it the maximum legal protection from development or other damage. Councillor William Leggatt has pushed for the site to be both recognised and protected since the discovery came to light. "There's a lot more in Fife and I'm quite sure there is a lot more to find on the Binn Hill itself, because it has been an important site through the ages," he said.

The discovery was a tale in itself. Local men Colin Kilgour and Jock Moyes, who shared an interest in archaeology, came across a picture of cup and ring-marked stones at an exhibition. "It was then we realised we had seen these markings before," explained Colin. "When we were kids we used to play on the Binn Hill, and I remembered finding patterns just like that when we were building a gang hut. We went back and, sure enough, the carvings were still there. We knew what the markings were, but had never imagined they would be so important.''

10 July 2003
nickbrand Posted by nickbrand
11th July 2003ce

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