Archaeologists in Scotland have been excavating the ruins of an Iron Age stone fort found deep in the Highlands. The ruins date back around 2,400 years and were discovered in the 1940s during surveys, but was lost until loggers re-discovered it recently. More curious of all, researchers have found evidence that the site had been destroyed, burned, and rebuilt several times throughout its history, suggesting a violent and tumultuous past. What exactly happened on this remote hilltop in the Highlands?
The ruins appear to be a broch, or dun, a type of round stone settlement found throughout Scotland. While numerous brochs are documented throughout the country, archaeologists are still unsure why they were built. The ruins show evidence of use for a continued 600-year period in which Scotland was still a tribal and feudal society, so it’s likely that the ruins were used as a defensive structure.
One of the strangest features of the stone fort, however, is that despite clearly having been extensively used for several periods throughout its long history, the site is utterly devoid of most of the usual archaeological artifacts associated with settlements. Researchers told Heritage Scotland that this odd combination of features poses a mystery for archaeologists:
The reuse of these sites and lack of considerable artifactual material suggests that these sites were nothing to do with elite settlements, but probably related to more autonomous farming communities establishing a presence and control over territory. The reuse indicates successive groups returning to the same site, although, for what purpose, it is unclear.
Researchers also believe the site could have been the home or seat of power for an unknown tribal chief in the area, as its prominent location atop a hillside would make it visible for miles around. Still, given the lack of artifacts, it’s impossible to say for sure yet what the structure was used for and by whom. Clearly, though, it was used for immortal highlanders to battle to the death. There can be only one.