An archaeological investigation on a Machars farm has uncovered three rare Bronze Age cists or burial chambers, one with the remains of a young child in it.
The investigation began after a stone cist burial was accidentally damaged by a plough at Blairbuy Farm in April 2012. shortly afterwards a team from GUARD Archaeology was sent to investigate through Historic Scotland.
Post-excavation analysis on a skeleton found in one of the cists confirmed the remains of a juvenile between nine and 12 years old buried there. The child had suffered malnutrition and a radiocarbon date obtained from the left ulna (elbow bone) placed the child’s death around 4000 years ago, in the early Bronze Age (2027-1886 BC).
The team uncovered two other empty cists that had never been used for burial suggesting they were constructed in anticipation of use, rather than as and when required.
The archaeologists said: ”The signs of malnutrition on the remains discovered may indicate a wider problem for the community at that time, perhaps a food shortage or the onset of disease and this is a possible explanation why other graves were prepared. But the fact that two cists were not used suggests the group or individuals may have move away from the area.
“This is rare evidence of the possible movement of groups and the loss or abandonment of ritual sites in an otherwise settled landscape during the Bronze Age period.
“This work also shows that we cannot assume that the construction of the cists we discovered is necessarily contemporary with the burial of the bodies contained therein.”
The full results of this research, ARO6: Preparing for death: excavations at Blairbuy, Dumfries and Galloway in 2012, is available online at www.archaeologyreportsonline.com