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Jet jewellery found in ancient Scottish village

The Whitby jet necklace was located
Picture by Guard Archaeology

The Whitby jet necklace was located Picture by Guard Archaeology

A pair of 4,000-year-old Whitby jet necklaces have been discovered at the centre of an Iron Age village in Scotland.

One of the artefacts features 130-pieces separate pieces of jet and is the first of its kind ever found in south-west Scotland.

It was uncovered during the building of a £17 million bypass in Wigtownshire, along with a jet bracelet and thousands of other artefacts which added together created an entire settlement spanning over 7,000 years.

John Atkinson of GUARD Archaeology, which conducted the dig, said the necklace dates from around 2500BC and is a major find for the region.

“Clearly the necklaces are of national importance,” he explained. “The jet necklaces are really a rare item and up intil now, distribution has been down the east coast, but this is the first to be found in that part of Scotland.”

The last jet necklace to be found in Scotland was excavated 30 years ago, so for the archaeologists to uncover three items in one dig was a major coup.

For such high quality goods to be discovered on the opposite side of the British Isles, over 150 miles from Whitby, suggests that its owners were among the highest classes of Bronze Age society.

Mr Atkinson explained: “You are talking about tribal elders and it’s the people that are leading the communities. These are the highest part of a localised society.

“You can see that there are trade networks of high quality goods and certainly from the beginning of the Bronze Age you can see that Whitby jet is a prize object that you come across in Scottish archaeology.”

For such high quality goods to be imported so widely suggests the area was immensely rich during the Bronze Age.

The discovery was made last year at East Challoch farm, off the A75 and suggests that vibrant trade routes were in place between Whitby and the Scottish coast.

The effect of this trade means that Whitby itself was likely to be an affluent region during the Bronze Age.

 

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