The demolition of a shop on the isle of Iona could be supervised by archaeologists so that any human remains uncovered in the historic conservation area can be avoided or excavated.
Michael Gordon, the owner of the Iona Craft Shop, has applied to Argyll and Bute Council for permission to knock the aging shop and adjoining residential unit down.
He is seeking planning approval to build a new shop in its place, allowing the existing business to grow.
The site is just north of the ferry terminal en route to the famous and iconic Iona Abbey.
In a consultation response, West of Scotland Archaeology Service has told the council: “The application lies within an area of high archaeological sensitivity on the isle of Iona.
“The site lies just to the south of the known high medieval period sites associated with the pre-reformation abbey complex and just east of an area where recent evaluation works by the National Trust for Scotland demonstrated the presence of buried prehistoric archaeology.
“There is clearly potential here for there to be buried remains in this vicinity and any such features may be affected by the ground disturbance proposed in this application.”
The service recommends that an archaeologist be hired to watch the works take place and deal with anything that may be found. The ground would be inspected for signs of buried archaeology.
It added: “If buried remains are identified there may be a requirement for further stages of archaeological works.”
Mr Gordon said of his plans: “We are just rebuilding what’s there. It will still be Iona Craft Shop, just bigger, better, warmer and drier.
“The current building was built in the 1960s and it has had its day. Because we are committed to staying open all year, we need to build something more suitable for keeping us warm and dry through the winter.
“If we do anything in Iona we have to an archaeology test done. It can be a bit of a hassle because we have to pay for that. Fingers crossed they won’t find anything too interesting.
“We are a growing business and committed to being open all year round. We are trying to extend the season because people need an income all year round and we are committed to being open.
“We have got a website and we will be working on web sales, particularly in winter. That will help us to stay open all year.”
Iona, surrounded by its white sandy beaches and turquoise seas, is the cradle of Scottish Christianity.
In AD563 St Columba and his followers arrived on its shores and today it is still a haven for spiritual retreats as well as a tourist destination.
The island off Mull is the burial place of the early Scottish kings, including Macbeth.
Today the 13th century Iona Abbey and Nunnery stands on the site of St Columba’s church.
Four tall, intricately carved crosses, dating from the 8th and 9th centuries, once stood close to the abbey. Three can now be seen in the Abbey Museum, while one is still in place.
Iona was a leading artistic centre from the 8th century, and sculptors, metalworkers and manuscript illuminators flourished there.