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Date August 2001 - September 2001

Event ID 584950

Category Recording

Type Excavation


NH 8731 7687 Further excavations were undertaken at the Hilton of Cadboll site in August and September 2001. The excavations aimed to retrieve all the remaining carved fragments from the 9th-century Pictish slab (NMRS NH87NE 7) which is thought to have been defaced in the 17th century; to reveal the extent of the stump which was found earlier in the year by Kirkdale Archaeology (see above); and to relate the stump with the chapel and the outer enclosure.

The excavations revealed that there were at least two settings for the Hilton stone about 6m outside the W gable of the chapel. The discovery of broken collar slabs and other flat slabs were indicative of some complexity in the setting and possible associated burials.

The stump was excavated and taken for temporary storage locally. The newly revealed W face depicts a cross base and interlaced beasts and the E face completed the bottom panel of the Hilton of Cadboll stone, with a gap of about 0.2m. The slab had broken at the top and the bottom and there was still a fragment of the tenon in one of the settings. The bottom of the designed panels are not level on either side, and there are rough marking out lines below the panel on the E face suggesting some redesigning of the E face.

The chapel wall was constructed of massive sandstone blocks, bonded with shell mortar, with a rubble core. No direct dating evidence was found but it is thought to be a medieval chapel, which perhaps went out of use at the Reformation. The outer enclosure bank consisted of a drystone wall with an earthen bank probably of post-medieval date.

Three skeletons were excavated and another two were partly revealed. These had different alignments, from SW-NE to N-S, indicating a range of dates. These individuals were not buried in stone cists, suggesting that they were medieval and post-medieval.

About 500 carved fragments were retrieved from the excavations, thought to be derived from the lost cross face and from the damaged E face. These include figurative pieces as well as interlacing, bosses and key patterning. (GUARD 1078).

Sponsors: Historic Scotland, National Museum of Scotland, Highland Council, Ross & Cromarty Enterprise.

H F James 2001.

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