Police officers in northern Scotland have been accused of vandalising a Bronze Age site through ignorance after they removed bones and textiles from the 4,000-year-old burial chamber, apparently because they thought they were investigating a crime scene.

The burial chamber, or cist, was discovered intact, in a field near Oykel Bridge in Sutherland. The area is rich in Bronze Age remains, but this find was of huge importance to archaeologists. Unlike the vast chambered cairns of the earlier Neolithic period, burials from the metal-working people of the Bronze Age are modest affairs with artefacts such as pottery most commonly found.



  1. #1 Stephen Moore
    March 18, 2009

    I’m astonished at the incompetence displayed by these two police officers. And especially by the detective. How a detective could so casually remove material from a suspected crime scene before a forensic team had investigated it is beyond comprehension.

    And that the issue has been so casually dismissed by Historic Scotland just beggars belief. Had this been an actual crime scene methinks the constable and especially the detective would have been so easily forgiven.

    There are proceedures for dealing with this sort of thing – be it a crime scene or archaeological site – for a very good reason.

  2. #2 Joshua Zelinsky
    March 18, 2009

    This is incredibly incompetent behavior. These police had apparently been told that it was an archaeological site. I really, really want these shmucks to lose their jobs.

  3. #3 george.w
    March 18, 2009

    Egad – a “little” incompetent? Don’t they get any training?

    One summer in college I had a roommate who was studying forensic criminology, and I read all his textbooks (this was long before the CSI show). It was fascinating stuff. How could you be in law enforcement and not know how important forensic evidence is?

  4. #4 Romeo Vitelli
    March 18, 2009

    I’m amazed they didn’t arrest the archaeologist as a homicide suspect.

  5. #5 Pierce R. Butler
    March 18, 2009

    Do the top Scottish detectives work out of England Yard?

    Even if they don’t, they should be applauded for not allowing possible foul play to go unprobed after 40 centuries!

  6. #6 Aaron Golas
    March 18, 2009

    Heads. Pikes.

    (Yeah, it’s a hyperbolic time of evening, so sue me.)

  7. #7 Emory K.
    March 19, 2009

    The Bronze Meddle winners.

  8. #8 kraut
    March 19, 2009

    Isn’t it wonderful to observe the intelligence of a scottish police officer in action, ready to take on any suspected crime no matter how ancient.

    One should send them to Stonehenge, after all a burial was there uncovered not too long ago.
    Imagine what those two officers, some cranes and a few back hoes could achieve.

    There would be no further investigation necessary to uncover perceived mysteries of Stonehenge.

    A hearty: “well done lads” to those officers.

  9. #9 Dunc
    March 19, 2009

    Textiles, in a Bronze Age cist in northern Scotland!? Ye Gods… Finds like that make hen’s teeth and horse feathers look relatively commonplace.

  10. #10 AK
    March 19, 2009

    I’m all choked up… with fury!

  11. #11 EricJuve
    March 19, 2009

    Now that’s what you could call a cold case!

  12. #12 Rowan
    March 19, 2009

    I am with Dunc.

    Bronze age textiles? I weep.

  13. #13 JSB
    March 19, 2009

    Heads and pikes? How modern. Better still – a blow to the head, strangulation, throats cut and a trip to the local bog so the incompetent officers can become archaeology themselves.

    I recall that when Ötzi the Iceman was discovered his remains were brutalized by clueless cops. But at least these remarkable finds were eventually recognized. In much of the world they would be just so much loot.

  14. #14 Legs Sparrow
    June 9, 2009

    A 4000 year old crime sceine the victim and killers are long dead WHAT DO YA TRY NEXT?