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Archaeological Evaluation

Date 22 August 2015 - 29 August 2015

Event ID 1026813

Category Recording

Type Archaeological Evaluation


NR 21045 56420 A week long investigation of the Early Neolithic Clyde-type chambered cairn of Slochd Measach (Giant’s Grave) on the Rhinns of Islay was carried out, 22– 29 August 2015, by a team from the University of Reading and the University of Bournemouth.

Slochd Measach chambered cairn is located in the forestry plantation on the SE slopes of Beinn Tart a’ Mhill near the southern tip of the Rhinns of Islay (NR 21045 56420). The remains of the cairn have been described by Newall and Newall (1961), and described and surveyed by Henshall (1972) and the RCAHMS (1984). The work undertaken in 2015 was undertaken after scheduled monument consent was granted by Historic Scotland.

Slochd Measach was chosen for investigation for two main reasons. Firstly, the location of an Early Neolithic monument within the landscape rich in both Mesolithic and Neolithic archaeology is thought to constitute a considerable potential for the understanding of the Mesolithic – Neolithic transition on Islay and more broadly in western Scotland. Secondly, the changing environmental conditions on the site during the last three decades, due to the establishment of the dense conifer plantation, were causing deterioration in drainage and the establishment of invasive plant species which might be a threat to the monument and the associated archaeological deposits.

The fieldwork in 2015 included cropping the vegetation, geophysical survey, monument recording, topographic survey and test pitting. Despite the short fieldwork season, significant information was gained regarding the preservation and the threat to the monument, the depth and the date of the overlying peat, presence of previously unidentified cairn rubble and possible associated Iron Age activity on the site. Presence of additional features and stone-built structures under the peat are thought likely on the basis of the results of the resistivity survey carried out in the immediate area surrounding the chambered cairn. Two radiocarbon dates were obtained from the base of the peat (Beta-421421 - 240±30BP, 430–10 CalBP and Beta-421420 - 101.3 ± 0.3BP, 260–30CalBP) and two from the underlying rubble deposit (Beta-421419 - 2300 ± 30BP, 2360–2180 CalBP and Beta-421418 - 2390 ± 30, 2490–2340 CalBP).

Archive: Museum of Islay Life. Report: National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) and WoSAS

Funder: University of Reading

Steven Mithen, Darko Maricevic and Karen Wicks – University of Reading

(Source: DES, Volume 16)

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