THE remains of a physically active woman with poor dental hygiene, who died 4000 years ago, have been found.

The discovery, along with others, is said by experts to underline the archaeological significance of the area around Inverness, which was important for prehistoric groups from early times.

Two years ago, a team from GUARD Archaeology, which has bases in Glasgow and Edinburgh, was led by Maureen Kilpatrick to undertake a rescue excavation when a cist, or tomb-like box made of stone, was disturbed during landscaping works for an access track through Cullaird Wood.

The cist contained the remains of a crouched burial, whose grave goods included seven fragments of flint and a plain beaker vessel.

According to the team, the burial appeared consistent with a period of use in the early Bronze Age, which was confirmed by the post-excavation analyses, which have just been completed. Ms Kilpatrick said the woman was aged between 40 and 44 when she died at some point between 1982-1889 BC.

"Both the right and left femurs (thighbones) appeared quite robust with fairly prominent muscle attachments, suggesting that the individual probably led a physically active lifestyle," she said.

Periodontal disease and a peri-apical cyst were present and were probably symptomatic of poor oral hygiene, she said.

The GUARD team said the find gave weight to the importance of the region.