Search starts for grave of Scots king

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A TEAM of archaeologists yesterday began an investigation which could solve a centuries-old mystery of the final resting place of a Scottish king.

A site in Inverness is said to be the grave of King Duncan who was slain near Elgin in the 11th century by Macbeth, who exiled the king's two sons to enhance his own claim to the throne.

While the ancient Scottish kings were mostly buried on Iona, legend has it Duncan was buried on the site of Old Perth Road. A monument marking the spot reads: "Behind this lies the supposed burial place of King Duncan 1040".

It was feared that evidence of the grave may have been disturbed or even destroyed when work began recently to develop the land on the site of a disused petrol station.

John Wood, Highland Council's senior archaeologist, said Highland archaeologists study about 4,000 planning applications a year for possible effects on historic sites, but this one had slipped through the net and he was alerted only after clearing work started. He visited the site and, in conjunction with Historic Scotland, arranged for a two-day excavation .

Mr Wood said: "We want to establish whether there is any evidence of the grave there. If there is it will be a big and exciting find. However it could be that something else has given rise to the legend of King Duncan’s grave.

"We need to investigate these things and if there is anything discovered it will be properly recorded.

"One of the problems is that the site was once a filling station and it’s quite possible that if there was something there it could have been destroyed when the underground tanks were put in.

"It may well be that it was always just a story, but equally it may be true and we take things very seriously when there is such a tradition."

A spokeswoman for Historic Scotland said: "It is very much a local story but what can often happen with these things is that the story starts because there is something there. For that reason we feel this site is worth looking at."