The A9 is Scotland's longest road and plays its part in the North Coast 500. Before ending at the UK's most Northern port, Scrabster Harbour, the A9 meanders its way through Caithness, passing many (often unnoticed) Bronze Age sites scattering the county. If you've driven this particular stretch of road before, known locally as 'eh Causeymire' I'd pretty much guarantee you've passed an archaeological hot spot without even realising (myself included!).
This one particular site at Achavanich has become pretty special recently. Why? Because it's where a suspected woman, recently named Ava (short for Achavanich), was buried over 4100 years ago, who's story is now being unearthed. Unfortunately, very little recordings from excavations carried out 30 years ago were left behind. But thanks to archaeologist Maya Hoole's determination, Ava's story is beginning to take shape allowing us to see Caithness' people of the past like we've never seen them before.
Last night I attended Maya's talk about The Achavanich Beaker Burial Project at Caithness Horizons Museum in Thurso, Caithness. Maya has spent countless hours (of her own time!) researching and examining what limited site records exist and through various archaeological testing has arrived at some astonishing conclusions: ranging from Ava's diet of fresh water fish and beef, to where she's likely to be from: here in Caithness of course!, right down to what Ava may have looked like through this fantastic facial reconstruction!
Maya's knowledge and passion shined through last night. It was thoroughly enjoyable to gain insight into the discoveries of Ava together with our past in Caithness. I know Maya will uncover and share many more stories of our prehistoric past. And I know I'll never pass that stretch of the A9 again without sparing a thought for Ava.
I urge you to learn more by following The Achavanich Beaker Burial Project.