A TEAM of archaeologists working at a site near Kilcreggan have discovered burial sites, bones and artefacts dating back around 4,000 years.

The North Clyde Archaeological Society have been conducting a major project at Portkil, on the southern tip of the Rosneath peninsula, for more than a year.

The two-fold endeavour has been the survey and partial excavation of the pre WWI army camp as well as the search for stone coffins found in 1815, about which nothing else is known.

The army camp was built for the landward defence of the Portkil Battery, where four massive guns and searchlights were installed to protect the Clyde Estuary against marine attack.

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While original War Department (WD) plans have been researched, the Society has discovered several important aspects about the camp; firstly it was never built exactly as planned by the WD, and it was never completed, therefore it was never occupied by soldiers.

In the hills surrounding Kilcreggan and Portkil, partially built stations were made for the landward outposts to defend the gun positions.

The camp was built not by the military but by contractors and what is puzzling the archaeologists is that while no trace of occupying soldiers has been found, neither is there any indicators of the camp builders.

The search for the stone coffins has also proved elusive but they may yet be discovered.

So far, six burials all dating to the Bronze Age between circa 3,000 and 4,500 years ago have been located.

Four are cremations with surviving bone which will eventually be professionally analysed and tell more of the people and their lifestyles.

One deposit was in a pot which had been truncated when the area was ploughed before the army camp was installed. The bones suggest a female and baby and tiny teeth roots in another burial also suggest an infant or baby.

Two stone coffins have been found, one is a tiny neatly made pit - which could only have been for a baby, however nothing was found in it.

Scotland has notoriously acidic soils which dissolve bodies within a few centuries.

Another more conventional Bronze Age cist was similarly devoid of anything, the assumption being that a crouched body was inserted in the coffin but has long since disappeared.

In another rather crudely made grave lined with stones, a complete pot and cremated bone was discovered. The small food vessel has been decorated all over by using a bone comb. It is believed that this grave contained a body and the cremated remains of another.

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The grave was covered in a layer of white quartz pebbles as a decoration.

In a rather insignificant pit filled with stones came a fine object in the form of a tiny green pottery bead glazed with copper, known as faience, this ‘segmented’ bead could be 4,000 years old.

Tam Ward, project leader, said: “We are elated by the recent discoveries.

“It’s been a resounding success. This is a major discovery for Argyll as it stands, with much more to come.”

Mr Ward added: “One thing is for sure, these discoveries add an important new dimension to the ancient story of Argyll.

“The work continues and more is expected to be discovered.

“We will have to raise funds to pay for specialist work on finds, then a new story about the ancient past on the Rosneath peninsula can be told.”

The Society hope to eventually install a permanent interpretation panel on or near the site to explain the history in detail.

Anyone interested in becoming involved in the exciting project should contact the website at spanglefish.com/northclydearchaeologicalsociety.com.