Archaeologists working on the Scottish island of Skye have discovered the remains of what could be Europe’s oldest stringed instrument. A fragment of burnt wood was unearthed in late 2011 in southern Skye’s High Pasture Cave. Experts who are now studying the object in the Historic Scotland laboratory believe it could be the bridge of an early stringed instrument.

The fragment – a flat piece of wood, around 5cm wide, with tooth-like indentations in its top and an arched underside – is thought to be at least 1,500 years old, more than a century older than the Viking lyre harps that until now have been considered Europe’s oldest stringed instruments.