The ongoing construction of the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR) has uncovered historic artefacts and structures going back 15,000 years.
Mesolithic pits, Roman bread ovens, prehistoric roundhouses and a cremation complex were recovered by archaeological specialists from various sites during the route’s construction and the results will be detailed in a new limited edition book due to be published later this year.
Building work for the AWPR began in February 2015 and is set to be completed by this spring at a cost of £745 million.
Once the route is open to motorists, the dual carriageway will help to reduce congestion, cut journey times, improve safety and lower pollution in Aberdeen city centre, as well as enable local authorities to develop public transport solutions.
Keith Brown, cabinet secretary for economy, jobs and fair work, deemed the historic discoveries to be an unexpected bonus.
He said: “The archaeology has also proven to be yet another huge benefit coming from this project, helping to shine a light on Scotland’s ancient past.
“The discoveries along the AWPR route, which would have remained undiscovered had the new bypass not been built, are truly remarkable and underline the importance of the value we place on meeting our environmental obligations as we plan and construct this new infrastructure.”
Bruce Mann, archaeologist for Aberdeenshire Council and Aberdeen City Council, said the artefacts raised more questions than they answer on life in the north east.
One example is the discovery of 90 bread ovens possibly constructed by the Roman army at a time of invasion led by the Roman General Agricola around 83/84 AD.
This creates confusion because no evidence of an associated camp was found, which is unusual for these types of features.
“We can only speculate as to why the ovens were at this specific location, and what it says about what was happening in the area at the time,” said Mr Mann.
Ben Robb, brand manager at Dieselink, added: “The AWPR project is unquestionably vital for the area but these discoveries provide priceless insight into the history of north-east Scotland.”