Homes in Britain may have had 'mod cons' as many as 4,000 years ago, according to archaeologists.

They have discovered what are believed to be some of the country's earliest cold storage larders, which are precursors to the fridge, at a Bronze Age site.

The larders, an early form of refrigeration used to keep milk and meat from going off, were uncovered by a team investigating six roundhouses found at a housing development site at Dunstaffnage, near Oban, Argyll.

They are the first north of the Border to have ring ditches inside.

Dr Clare Ellis, of Argyll Archaeology, who led an evaluation at the site, believes the ditches are cellars for keeping food cool.

"This is a new design, not recognised or seen before in Scotland. The general consensus was that ring ditches occur outside the roof supports of roundhouses, but still within the roundhouse structure, and were erosional features where animals were kept," the Daily Mail quoted her as saying.

"But these are inside the roof support area and the theory is that they are low cellars that would have had wooden floors over them. We think they are an early form of cellar, an early larder storage system.

"In the Iron Age they had banana-shaped cellars and this would appear to be the precursor to that. They are on the coolest side of the house. It's like an early form of refrigeration, where they would keep cheeses, milk, dried meat, salted fish and grain," she said.

While archaeologists have discovered older areas for the storage of food on Orkney, dating back to Neolithic times, the Dunstaffnage findings are the earliest roundhouse stores of their kind to be uncovered.

Dr Ellis said that another important find was the discovery of air vents coming out of the ring ditches and the hearths.

"These channels coming out are wood-lined vents to let air through and to allow the washing out of some of the ring ditches occasionally. This is a new design that's not really been recognised or seen in Scotland before," she said.

All the discovery come from the Bronze Age and radio carbon dating will be used to place the settlement to within 40 years.

"It's unusual to get so many roundhouses surviving together in this way. They are not particularly huge so they were probably just ordinary people living here, but I think, in relative terms, it could have been quite a populated landscape," Dr Ellis added. (ANI)