The remains of an ancient burial ground thousands of years old have been discovered at the site of Spaceport UK.
The discovery was made during foundation work for the SaxaVord complex in the Shetland Islands, which hopes to host the UK’s first vertical rocket launch by the end of 2023.
Pit, large boulders and charred bones were found, along with white quartz associated with burials and rock art, suggesting it was a ritual cremation burial site.
Archaeologists working at the site believe it dates back to the Early Bronze Age, around 2200-1800 BC.
Shetland regional archaeologist Dr Val Turner said the discovery was “very exciting”.
She added: “The Bronze Age was perhaps the least understood period of Shetland’s past and this is a fantastic opportunity to change that.”
SaxaVord said it would continue to support the research and would not interfere with work at the spaceport.
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Spaceport to be licensed in ‘late summer’
The site, on the Lambanis peninsula in Unst, hopes to host multiple launches this year but is awaiting a spaceport permit from the Civil Aviation Authority.
Its application was made last year, and the company is confident it will be approved soon.
Chief operating officer Debbie Strong told Sky News: “We believe they will be delivered by late summer.
“It will be a real celebration when we get the clearance – it will be a big step because it’s not just Shetland in Scotland or the UK, but Europe – the first vertical launch site in Europe.”
Ms Strong was speaking after the companies co-launched Starflight Academy, an educational program that invites children into an interactive virtual classroom about space and how to become an astronaut .
It was created by edtech company RM Technology and NASA teacher Mike Mongo and debuted at the Future Lab exhibition at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
The UK space industry, which added £7bn to the economy last year, is keen to engage the public as it seeks to become a major player in the industry globally.
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