Archaeology Magazine Archive

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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(Courtesy Historic Scotland Crown Copyright)

Thousands of years before the first bagpipe was ever played in the Scottish highlands, a prehistoric musician on the remote Isle of Skye played a type of lyre. During excavations at High Pasture Cave, which contains evidence for 800 years of human activity between the Late Bronze and Iron Ages, archaeologists discovered the wooden remains of what they believe is the bridge of the earliest stringed instrument ever found in Europe. According to archaeomusicologist Graeme Lawson of the University of Cambridge, the find "pushes the history of complex music [in western Europe] back more than 1,000 years."