By Moira Kerr

A Bronze Age skeleton is a step closer to rattling its way into the limelight after a Scots museum received an anonymous £50,000 donation towards its extension plans.

The remains of the mystery woman have been boxed away for years, along with a treasure trove of other ancient artefacts, waiting to go on show at Kilmartin Museum.

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Over £5.2million has been pledged to pay for the extra display space which is desperately needed to allow the hidden hoard, of items which have been excavated in the area, to go on show.

As the campaign to raise the rest of the cash needed for the £6.7million extension gains momentum a generous benefactor has come forward to assist the cause.

Dr Sharon Webb, curator of the museum, said the monetary gift, from a well wisher who wants to remain anonymous, demonstrated the importance of preserving Kilmartin's history.

The area is home to a wealth of internationally significant prehistoric and early historic sites and monuments, making it mainland Scotland's most important archaeological landscape.

Dr Webb said: "Every year artefacts are found by chance, excavated by us, or other agencies, so our collection continues to grow, but we are rapidly running out of space to house it.

"If we cannot build new facilities we will have to stop collecting, this would be a great shame as we want to keep Argyll's treasures here in Argyll."

Dunadd hill fort was the citadel of the first kings of Scotland and more than 800 historic monuments, including standing stones and stone circles, can be seen in a six mile radius of Kilmartin village.

Dr Webb said: "This is Scotland's Stone Henge, but before the museum opened 20 years ago there were just a couple of interpretation boards here and nothing else."

Despite its links with the early kings of Scotland, and evidence of populations living there throughout the ages, only one complete skeleton has been found there.

The Bronze age woman's remains had been carefully buried and were retrieved intact during an excavation.

Dr Webb said: "She was buried in a cist so obviously somebody cared an awful lot for her. We will be able to do research to find out what she looked like, so visitors to the new museum can literally come face to face with the Bronze Age."

She added: "St Columba is supposed to have crowned one of the kings of Scotland here at Dunadd, the site was occupied for centuries and there were probably lots of kings here, Dunadd is Scotland's most important national monument because it is from that site that the picts and the scots were united.

"It's where Scotland got its name from, the Scoti, the Gaelic speaking people. It was Scotland before Scotland was Scotland. The Kingdom of Dalriada united Argyll with Ireland at that time."

But she added: "It is quite rare for human bones to survive in this soil because the soil is quite acidic,but we do have this one woman's skeleton that was found during an excavation, in advance of quarrying.

"We don't know who she is, but she is the only skeleton that has survived and she has been stored away in a box, waiting for her moment to go on display."