Archaeologists investigating the site of a Pictish monastery in
Easter Ross thought to have been founded by St Columba in AD 565
have discovered that it was built on top of a prehistoric cemetery.
The revelation follows the excavation of three fifth century
graves by a team of experts from York University, who have been
working on the Tarbat Peninsula at Portmahomack since 1994.
Professor Martin Carver, who is leading the dig, yesterday said
these were the first burial sites they had found around St Colman's
Church and they shone new light on why the monastery site was
Prof Carver said there were Bronze Age and Iron Age burials all
along the coast of the Tarbat Peninsula, many of them encountered
years ago by builders.
He said the three new examples of early graves, which came to
light during the Tarbat dig, were 6ft 6in (1.98m) long and over 3ft
3in (99.1m) deep.
"One had large slabs of sandstone on all four sides of the
skeleton, and a roof of slabs over the top," he said.
A new exhibition of the Portmahomack archaeological discoveries
funded by Highland 2007, opened recently at the Tarbat Discovery