IT IS one of the most beautiful but well-trodden parts of Scotland. Few people thought the Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond had any more secrets to yield.
But a team of researchers called in to carry out a routine historical dig have uncovered an archeological gold mine.
Under planning rules, the 300-acre site at Midross, on the western side of the loch, scheduled to be a new championship golf course, had to be checked for historical significance.
The team of archeologists from Glasgow University found evidence of civilisation dating back almost 5,000 years,
uncovering a string of Bronze Age burial sites, Iron Age villages and an early Christian cemetery. Treasures found include two black shale bracelets of a kind never before found intact in Scotland and a rare Iron Age glass bead, only one of which has ever been found before north of the Border.
Glasgow University Archeological Research Division (Guard) arrived on site last October,
having been asked by the De Vere Hotel group to check for archeological remains before work started on the company’s 50m, loch-side "The Carrick at Loch Lomond" golf course and luxury lodge holiday development.
Guard’s project manager, Bob Will, said: "The glass bead is a significant find and will be regarded as a national treasure. In terms of importance, this site has to rank at least eight or nine on a scale of 10."
Will said that the sheer size of the site cleared for the golf course made it one of the largest-ever digs in Scotland. He added: "It is an incredible sequence because we are seeing 5,000 years of settlement in the same area."
Craig Mitchell, managing director of De Vere Resort Ownership, said one of the Iron Age settlements would be permanently protected.
"It is incredible to think of everything that happened here," he added.