Human remains left on beach after storm hits Pictish cemetery
Archaeologists are now in a race against time to excavate and preserve the site in Orkney which is prone to landslides.
Archaeologists are racing against time to excavate and preserve a large Pictish cemetery – after storm damage revealed human remains.
The coastal site at Newark in Orkney was battered by recent high winds and waves.
The ground, which is formed of soft boulder clay, is prone to
landslides as it holds on to high volumes of rainwater, according to experts.
Volunteers are working to secure the cemetery site, which is
currently being protected by sandbags, as quickly as possible.
It is believed the cemetery could hold invaluable information
about the little-understood transition between the Pictish era and the arrival
of Vikings on Orkney.
Human remains which have fallen onto the beach will be collected
and moved for safekeeping.
Bones exposed in the boulder clay will remain in place until a
full excavation can get underway, allowing archaeologists to get a full picture
of the burial rituals carried out there.
Pete Higgins, senior project manager at Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology (ORCA) said the site would be lost to the sear “within a few short years” without work to upkeep it.
Mr Higgins said: “The archaeologically important site at
Newark on the south east coast of Orkney is under constant threat from storm
surges and huge waves blowing in from the North Sea.
“The coast in this location is made up of soft boulder clay
and, with the continual procession of bad weather we have experienced in the
past few months, the site is under constant threat of further destruction –
revealing more human remains as each storm passes.”
‘The site is under constant threat of further destruction – revealing more human remains as each storm passes.’
Pete Higgins, senior project manager at Orkney Research Centre
The cemetery was in use from at least 550AD to 1450AD, with bodies
buried over four of five layers.
The skeletons removed from the site during the 1960s and 1970s by Professor Brothwell of York University are now largely stored at the Natural History Museum in London, with some held at Orkney Museum in Kirkwall.
In 2016 a carved Pictish type two stone was exposed and excavated
by ORCA Archaeology.
A three-year project, funded by Historic Environment Scotland, is now under way to better understand the site and the remains found there.
DNA analysis of the human remains will be carried out to determine
the background of those buried there.
Newark was also once home to a 17th-century manor house which was also claimed by erosion of the coastline.
The site is being actively watched over by Deerness residents and
volunteers from across Orkney, including students and staff from the University
of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) Archaeology Institute.
A major report is now being compiled, detailing the work that has
been completed at Newark in the past and what needs to be done for the future.
Mr Higgins added: “We know that the site was excavated in the
1960s and 1970s by Professor Brothwell of York University and that remains of
more than 200 individuals were excavated during that time.
“The cemetery was in use from at least 550AD to 1450AD, and
although its physical extent is not known, it is thought to be extensive.
“Further research work connected with the major project now
being undertaken by ORCA will determine more over the next three years.
Three asylum seekers who were hurt in mass stabbings at a hotel are still suffering from flashbacks a year on.
Sudanese national Badreddin Abedlla Adam, 28, was shot dead by armed police after injuring six people in a knife attack at the Park Inn in Glasgow.
Police officer PC David Whyte and two hotel workers were also taken to hospital after the incident, which prompted a huge emergency response in the city centre.
Ahead of Saturday’s anniversary, the three asylum seekers spoke together for the first time and revealed they’re haunted by the memories every day.
Max Aubin Glossoa and two other men – being named only as Mo and Mohamed – also told STV News they had no “bad feelings” towards their attacker.
‘I spend the days in my house’
Max, 21, from Ivory Coast, rarely ventures outside even 12 months on from the “worst day of my life”.
“To me now ‘safety’ is just a word,” he said. “I came here to be safe and I was stabbed, so it’s just a word.
“Physically I have a lot of scars on my body and there are a lot of things I still can’t do, like go to the gym and work out. Mentally it is difficult to forget as the flashbacks are still coming and coming.
“I feel alone. There can be ten people in the room but I still feel alone because I don’t trust anyone.
“I don’t like to go outside in case someone will hurt me, so I spend all my days in my house, far from the city and from people.”
‘I just have to be stabbed‘
Blood in the hotel lift was the first thing that alerted Mohamed, a teenager from Sierra Leone, to the danger, before he was confronted by the knifeman.
“He was keeping a knife behind his back,” the 18-year-old said. “He grabbed me and punched me and tried to reach for his knife. I was shouting for help, but no one was coming to my rescue.
“I thought ‘I’ll just have to be stabbed. I’ll just have to die’.”
The teenager, who spent three days in hospital with severe bruising, managed to break free and ran outside, where he saw his friend Mo had been stabbed.
“He was crying and saying he was going to die,” Mohamed said. “As he was calling my name, I was just thinking how was I saved.”
‘Will I play football again?‘
Mo was going to get lunch when he was stabbed in the back.
“I tried to turn and he stabbed me again,” the 19-year-old said. “He was holding two knives and stabbing at my back and stomach. I was shouting and shouting. The place where I tried to run to was blocked.”
Mo spent ten days in hospital and still needs treatment for a liver problem.
“The first thing I asked my doctor was ‘will I play football again?’. The doctor said ‘yes’ and I was like ‘thank god’.
‘It’s killing me slowly‘
The three men were moved into flats after being released from hospital and have had counselling, but still face an uncertain future as they wait to learn whether they can remain in Scotland.
Mo said: “It’s killing me slowly. We are always thinking about one thing – is the Home Office going to do this or that? We are in total darkness and thinking about this every day is not good for my mental health.“
Their immigration lawyer Andrew Bradley said his clients’ cases deserved to be treated as a priority.
“These three men are going to have to live with what happened to them in Glasgow for the rest of their lives,” he said.
“They have been struggling over the last year and their recovery from this trauma is really poorly served by the ongoing delay.
“It is time the authorities involved and Home Office gave these cases the priority they deserve.”
Needs ‘were not met’
In the aftermath of the attack, serious questions were raised about the treatment of asylum seekers, who were placed in hotels by the Home Office – following a suggestion from housing contractor Mears Group – as Scotland went into lockdown.
Charities and politicians said the needs of vulnerable people – including children, pregnant women and trafficking survivors – were not being met.
An agreed pause with the city council on asylum seekers being placed in Glasgow by the Home Office remains in place.
Mears said the victims of the Park Inn attacks had been offered counselling and other support, and that it aimed to move all asylum seekers out of hotels within the next month.
A statement read: “We are seeing the housing and lettings market open up and we are now able to procure additional dispersed accommodation in the community.
“We have 170 service users currently and we are arranging moves out every day, with the aim of all service users being out of hotels by the end of July.”
What did the Home Office say?
A Home Office spokesperson said: “We take the welfare of those in our care extremely seriously. All asylum seekers in hotels are provided with full-board accommodation with three meals a day served as well as all other essentials.
“In the aftermath of the Glasgow incident, our accommodation provider offered trauma response services and had regular conversations with residents to ensure mental health needs were addressed.
“Our New Plan for Immigration will reform the broken asylum system, allowing us to welcome people through safe and legal routes, while preventing abuse and pressure on the system and the criminality associated with it.”
Who was Badreddin Abedlla Adam?
The 28-year-old from Sudan had been living in Glasgow for six months before carrying out the attacks at lunchtime on Friday, June 26 last year.
He’d been struggling to get help with his mental health during the pandemic and fellow asylum seekers at the hotel were worried about his behaviour.
One person told STV News he had previously warned he was going to carry out an attack – which campaign group Refugees for Justice said was the culmination of a “tragic chain of events”.
A year later, Max said he had “no bad feelings” towards his attacker.
“Every day when I remember, I still feel guilty,” he added. “We were the same. We lived in the hotel and we were asylum seekers. We didn’t take the time to say ‘are you ok?’.”
‘Remembrance and unity’
A commemoration event will take place in Glasgow at 1pm on Saturday, when people are being asked to bring flowers, candles and poems to George Square.
Refugees for Justice coordinator Pinar Aksu said: “We want to mark the anniversary of what happened last year, by remembering our friends and all of the people seeking asylum in our city who lost their lives.
“We want June 26 to be a day when we all come together in a moment of remembrance and unity.”
The owners of Glasgow and Aberdeen airports has urged the UK and Scottish governments to be “more transparent” over their decisions on international travel.
AGS Airports, which also owns Southampton Airport, also warned that passenger confidence is at “an all-time low”.
It comes after the latest travel green list arrangements were unveiled on Thursday evening.
The Scottish Government said that Malta, Madeira and the Balearics would be amongst those to be added to the expanded list.
Meanwhile, a number of other destinations, including Tunisia and Uganda, were added to the red list, meaning that people who go there will be required to isolate for ten days on their return.
The latest changes are due to come into effect at 4am on June 30.
In a statement released by AGS Airports, it said that its airports are “virtually empty”.
It read: “We have repeatedly highlighted that aviation is not an industry that can just be simply switched on or off at short notice, so there will likely be no swell in travel from Scottish airports following [Thursday’s] announcement.
“Passenger confidence is at an all-time low and our airline partners are understandably finding it impossible to operate schedules given the unpredictability of the current situation.
“The UK and Scottish governments must be more transparent about the decisions they are making regarding international travel.
“This weekend should be the start of the peak summer holiday season and we’d normally welcome thousands of people each day through our doors and the terminals would be buzzing with excitement.
“Instead our airports are virtually empty for the second summer in a row.”
It added that the Travel Day of Action, held earlier this week, demonstrated the “strength of feeling amongst the 1.6 million hard working and dedicated people employed across our industry”.
Following the update on Thursday, Scottish transport secretary Michael Matheson said the Government would continue to work closely with the other home nations.
“From the outset we have said caution is required regarding international travel and people should think very carefully about travelling abroad as situations can suddenly change,” he said.
“We continue to work closely with the other home nations and are cautiously supportive of exploring options for the easing of restrictions for fully vaccinated travellers arriving from countries on the amber list – but only if the clinical advice supports it and if systems are in place to ensure the wider safety of the Scottish population.”
Brother and sister with rare genetic disorder seek match
Five-year-old Lily and three-year-old Benjamin are so unique their condition doesn’t even have a name.
A brother and sister thought to be the only people in the world with the rarest of genetic conditions are joining an international search to help find other families who could be like theirs.
Lily and Benjamin Arnott, from Penicuik, Midlothian, are so unique their condition doesn’t even have a name.
Their parents, Kenny and Crystal, have signed up to a world-leading database in the hope of finding support.
“It can be quite lonely sometimes being parents of children with additional support needs,” said Mr Arnott.
“Being a parent is hard full stop. It’s hard. But it’s quite hard to explain to other parents what you go through every so often.
“So I guess that’s going to start being really important to us.”
The Arnotts are among 684 families in Scotland who have signed up with Surrey-based charity Unique, whose world-leading database helps to track down and pair families with extremely rare chromosome and gene disorders in the UK or overseas.
Children, who were thought to be the only one with a specific rare chromosome or gene disorder (RCD), are being paired with others and given a lifeline to share experiences and information.
“Our hopes with being on Unique is to be part of this ever-growing database and hopefully reaching out to other families that may have the same rare chromosome and then being able to support each other,” said Mrs Arnott.
There are no set milestones for Lily and Benjamin’s development because there are no other confirmed cases exactly like theirs.
Genetic testing after Lily was born showed that she had an extra chromosome strand.
Her younger brother, Benjamin, has the same unusual arrangement which has so far not been identified in other patients whose details are logged with UK or international databases.
Finding other families offers the family not just emotional support, but also an opportunity to share information that could help answer questions about the children’s future.
If a match were to be found with an older child or even adult, it would provide valuable information to the family and their doctors.
“Having a child with a rare or unique condition can be a very lonely place but this incredible application of science is leading to new discoveries every day, so we have been able to put families in touch with similarly ‘unique’ families across the world,” said Dr Beverly Searle, CEO of Unique.
“Many of our families have been told that their child may be the only one in the world with their specific disorder so discovering someone else like them and sharing their journeys can be life-changing.”
Crack cocaine, heroin and cash seized in police raids
Three men have been charged in connection with the county lines operation in Aberdeen on Thursday.
Three men have been charged after more than £30,000 worth of crack cocaine and heroin was seized in police raids across Aberdeen.
Almost £20,000 in cash was also recovered as part of the intelligence-led county lines operation.
On Thursday, officers raided nine properties in areas including Garthdee, Rosemount, Bucksburn and Bridge of Don.
Over the course of the operation, known as Operation Makeshift, police recovered the cash haul as well as heroin with a street value of £13,000 and crack cocaine with a street value of £18,000.
Three men, aged 22, 35 and 47, were arrested and charged in connection with drug supply offences and will appear at Aberdeen Sheriff Court on Friday.
Police said county lines groups typically use young or vulnerable people to deliver or store drugs, and to sell to customers.
This can involve intimidation, violence and in some cases the sexual exploitation of young people.
Members of a group may take over a vulnerable person’s home as a base to conduct their operations from, often coercing the person into helping them through violence or threats of violence.
Detective inspector Martyn Thomson said: “Proactively targeting organised crime groups who exploit vulnerable people and import drugs into our communities for their own illicit gain remains a priority for our officers.
“Thursday’s operation shows we’re committed to identifying the supply chain of drugs and disrupting the activity of people intent on bringing them to the north-east.
“Drugs cause nothing but harm and despair to families and communities.
“However we can’t do this alone. The public continue to play a vital role in assisting investigations into drug crime and I would encourage anyone who believes an individual or property within their community may be being exploited for criminal purposes to contact Police Scotland.”
If you have any concerns about the supply of illegal drugs in your area, call 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Competition officials are to examine whether people and businesses have been able to post fake reviews online with too much impunity.
The Competition and Markets Authority has opened a formal investigation into whether Amazon and Google have done enough to crack down on the practice.
CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli said: “Our worry is that millions of online shoppers could be misled by reading fake reviews and then spending their money based on those recommendations.
“Equally, it’s simply not fair if some businesses can fake five-star reviews to give their products or services the most prominence, while law-abiding businesses lose out.”
The watchdog said that over the past year it has become concerned that the two technology giants are not doing enough to detect fake and misleading reviews or suspicious behaviour.
In some cases users might have reviewed the same range of products or businesses, or at times reviews suggest that the writer was paid or given another incentive to write the post.
It questioned whether the two are doing enough to investigate and promptly remove fake and misleading reviews from their platforms, and impose adequate sanctions on reviewers or businesses engaged in the practice.
“It’s important that these tech platforms take responsibility and we stand ready to take action if we find that they are not doing enough,” Mr Coscelli said.
The CMA said its concerns have been prompted by a year-long initial inquiry, which caused it to launch this formal investigation.
If it finds that the two companies are not doing enough, the CMA could force them to change how they work.
But officials stressed that they have not yet reached a view on whether either has broken the law.
Last year Facebook, Instagram and eBay removed groups and banned individuals for buying or selling fake reviews on their sites.
More than 300 counselling sessions have been delivered to young people about gender identity and sexuality in the past year, a charity has said.
NSPCC’s Childline delivered 305 such sessions in 2020/21 and in 170 of these, young people mentioned coming out as a concern – an 11% increase from the previous year.
The children’s charity has around 370 volunteer counsellors at its Glasgow and Aberdeen bases who are available for sessions amid challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.
One 12-year-old girl who spoke to Childline said: “I want to tell somebody that I’m gay but I just can’t find the courage to.
“I don’t want people to judge me or treat me any differently if they find out. Some people really hate gay people and I’m scared of what will happen if I tell someone.”
Another to speak to the charity, a 15-year-old who identifies as transgender, said: “I’m around my parents way more than I’m around my friends, especially now with Covid.
“My friends know about me being trans and they’re doing everything they can to make me feel comfortable, like using he/him pronouns and calling me by my preferred name instead of my birth name.
“My parents, on the other hand, hate my entire being and still refer to me as a girl, which hurts me so bad.”
The charity released the figures to mark Pride Month and to remind children and young people of the support available as restrictions ease.
Lauren Burke, Childline Glasgow team manager, said: “At Childline, we know that coming out or speaking about sexuality and gender identity can be really challenging.
“Many children and young people who have spoken to our trained volunteer counsellors have described their time under lockdown as a period of reflection, a chance to think about important issues in their lives, both recent and historic.
“Some children with sexuality and gender concerns revealed that lockdown had been particularly hard for them, as they’d been cut off from their usual support networks.
“Others told Childline that lockdown had given them the confidence and freedom to come out to their friends and family.
“No matter what a young person’s experience is with coming out or speaking about their gender identity or sexuality, at Childline we believe every young person has a right to be listened to and speak about any worries or questions they may have without feeling judged.
“If a young person feels unable to speak to a trusted adult in their life then we would encourage them to speak to Childline.”