The Northern Scot

November 15, 1985

The discovery of an extremely well-preserved Bronze Age burial cist in Moray has created a stir among archaeologists.

The cist, which contained a skull and bones was discovered by a farmer John Duncan at Westfield Farm near Roseaisle. He came across the coffin after his plough made a noise which suggested it had struck a hard concrete base.

Mr. Duncan made a partial examination of the site. To his horror the first thing he found was a skull protruding from the cist. Realizing he made a highly unusual archaeology discovery, he contacted the experts.

Mr. Ian Shepherd, Grampian regional archaeologist visited the site and said that "the find was very exciting and the first one in Moray in quite some time."

He spent two days in dreadful weather excavating the site and was able to determine quite a lot of information from exploratory work.

He said: "The burial ground will be some 4000 years old and, from what we have found already, it is obviously the resting place of someone who was very important in this particular community."

"I believe that the large mound a few feet to the right of the site was a communal burial ground but that this cist had been set apart. It is very detailed in its construction and obviously took a long time to build, and it is typical of the period."

"The bones have been very well-preserved and preservation of this kind is unusual. The last similar discovery on this scale was in 1976 in Ardersler but this may well prove to be an even more important find, during a fairly advanced stage of excavation and certainly the bones were in remarkable condition for 4000 years old."

Mr. Shepherd intends to return to the site this week to complete the "dig" and is hopeful of finding more remnants of the Bronze Age, such as pots, necklaces or other artifacts.

He said "the bones will be sent to the cemetery department at Aberdeen University for examination. From what we should be able to tell how old the person was, what sex they were and hove an outside chance of telling how they died."

"The huge capstone over the cist is very unusual and one of the biggest I have come across in the Moray area. Mr. Duncan asked that we leave the cist in place, which we shall do."


After all the excavative work and scientific research has been completed, Mr. Shepherd said an exhibition is likely to be mounted with the relics with the Forres Museum the most likely location.

Mr. Duncan and his family live at Hopeman but Westerfield Farm is just past the Hopeman/Duffus turnoff on the main Elgin-Burghead road at the junction heading for Kinloss.

Curator of Forres Museum Mr. Ian Morrison has visited the cist and was excited at the discovery.

He said "It is a very exciting find and we are hopeful that an exhibition can be mounted in Forres using the bones of other artifacts found."