AN archaeology firm that has helped shed light on important events from Scotland’s past such as the battle of Bannockburn has been acquired by its employees.

GUARD Archaeology made the move under a succession plan developed by the former majority shareholders, who wanted to secure jobs at the firm while ensuring it remained based in Scotland.

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These include GUARD Archaeology director Ronan Toolis, who said: “It was important to us that the company wasn’t sold to a single buyer or that control of the company was moved out of Scotland where the bulk of our work is undertaken,”

Fellow director John Atkinson noted the desire to protect jobs was also an extremely important factor in the decision-making process. Many employees have been with the business for a long time and played a vital role in its success.

He added: “Moving into employee ownership gives the opportunity for job security to everyone who works here and enables them to have collective control of their future. The staff are very excited about the opportunities it will bring for the future growth of the business.”

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With offices in Glasgow and Edinburgh, GUARD has worked on a range of notable projects.

The company managed a dig that identified the real site of the 1314 battle of Bannockburn, on the north eastern outskirts of Stirling. GUARD found a previously unknown Roman Camp in Ayr, while completing excavation work ahead of the construction of the new Ayr Academy.

The company does much of its work in advance of the start of the construction phase of housing developments and infrastructure projects.

It was spun out of Glasgow University in 2011 by a group of specialists. Mr Toolis and Mr Atkinson were among the founding directors.

A trust has acquired GUARD on behalf of the firm’s 32 employees, for an undisclosed sum.

Co-operative Development Scotland provided support with the transition. It reckons there are around 110 employee-owned firm operating in Scotland.